Harris: More majors for Tiger? We'll see
By John Harris
Published: Tuesday, June 18, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Just like that, Tiger Woods has performed a startling about-face after his flameout at this year's U.S. Open and his failure to win a major golf tournament in the past five years.
Exactly five years to the day, Woods, who defeated Greensburg native Rocco Mediate to win the 2008 U.S. Open in a memorable playoff at Torrey Pines — two months after knee surgery — finished 13-over-par at Merion Golf Club.
It was his worst score in an Open since he was 14-over as an amateur in 1996.
On the other hand, Woods is so talented, he's the early favorite to win next month's British Open, according to odds posted at the LVH SuperBook.
Not so fast.
One moment, Tiger is winning The Players Championship and the Arnold Palmer Invitational. The next, he places in a tie for 32nd at the U.S. Open and looks less likely to surpass Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 major championships.
When it comes to Tiger's golf game, which ranges from spectacular to shaky, no one really knows.
Least of all, Woods himself.
“I did a lot of things right,” Woods said following his final round Sunday. “Unfortunately, I did a few things wrong, as well.”
Eventually, Tiger will be fine. That's what we keep telling ourselves. After all, Jack Nicklaus won his final major at age 46.
There's plenty of time for Woods to turn things around. But he needs to display more mental toughness and a willingness to grind through rough patches of golf without falling out of contention on moving day.
As difficult as it is to believe that Tiger shot 74 in his final round at this year's U.S. Open — he's 0 for 16 at major tournaments since winning the 2008 Open — it's easier to believe that he will snap out of it and resume winning majors.
Eventually, we all assume, he will return to being Tiger simply because he's the best golfer in the world — even though his peers don't react the way Chris DiMarco did at Bethpage Black more than a decade ago.
“I can't play with him on this course, and I'm man enough to admit it,” said DiMarco, who also finished runner-up to Woods at the U.S. Open in 2006.
Now, opponents such as Sergio Garcia crack unfunny jokes about Tiger's eating habits.
Garcia couldn't beat Woods if you gave Sergio five strokes and tied one of Tiger's arms behind his back. The fear factor that fellow golfers had for Eldrick's game is gone.
Still, Woods has won 14 majors. That buys him a tremendous amount of credibility.
Among active golfers, Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els are next with four major championships apiece. Mickelson should have racked up No. 5 at this year's Open, but that's another story.
Mickelson and Els are 43. Another generation may pass before someone else challenges Woods' majors total, and that's a very big if.
Tiger won his first major in 1997. Gobbling up championships like Pac-Man, Woods won his eighth major when he was 27 and pocketed his 10th major by the time he was 30.
However, major championships have come at a slower pace for Woods, who turns 38 in December — four majors in the past seven years.
Nicklaus won his eighth major when he was 30.
Over the next five years, Nicklaus added six more major championships. At 46, he won his final major following a six-year dry spell.
Of course, there have been more than enough distractions to sidetrack Woods from his appointed rounds: knee surgery, swing changes, coaching changes, caddie changes, a painful divorce followed by public humiliation, and the ravages of time.
That's right, time.
Woods might be the best-conditioned golfer in the world, but this isn't 1997 or even 2008, when he played in pain and gutted out a clutch performance to win the U.S. Open. None of us are getting younger.
Woods suffered an elbow injury in May at The Players Championship, which clearly affected his performance at the U.S. Open. It remains to be seen if those same elbow problems flare up at the British Open, and what impact that may have as Woods pursues his 15th major championship.
Unless Woods loses faith, there's no reason to believe he won't continue his pursuit of Nicklaus' record.
As Nicklaus proved late in his career, Woods' age shouldn't matter.
John Harris is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @JHarris_Trib.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Garden Q&A: Firecracker vine OK for trellis?
- Two players ejected after Pirates, Brewers brawl
- Starkey: Penguins’ arrogance astounding
- Egg decorating turns to fight, charges in Brookline, police say
- Man dead in Beaver County brush fire
- Worshippers welcome Easter’s dawn in Pittsburgh’s North Side
- Matt Calvert’s goal in double OT evens series for Blue Jackets
- Police: McKees Rocks woman had child on board when she crashed after chase
- Draftees’ longevity key for NFL success
- Penguins’ Gibbons scores twice but leaves with apparent injury
- Officials identify Chartiers shooting victim as Wilkinsburg man