Tag Archives: PGA Tour

Why Tiger Woods won’t win a Major in 2014

By Jeffrey A. Rendall

It’s always fun reading about New Year’s predictions and resolutions, because the prognostications are usually about as accurate as the resolves are long-lasting. Most golf commentators that I’ve seen are foretelling of a Tiger Woods victory in a major championship this year, and some are even expecting multiple victories.

I’m not quite sure if these are actual predictions as much as they are wishful (and hopeful) thinking. The golf world certainly needs Tiger Woods, and to some, they need him to win in order for golf to remain relevant.

ImageI depart from these soothsayers for a number of reasons. First and foremost is because in 2014, Tiger will be almost six years removed from his most recent major win (at the 2008 U.S. Open) when he tees it up at the Masters in April. That 2008 triumph is the one where he famously gutted out a victory despite hobbling around on a torn-up knee and a broken leg.

Who can forget him limping noticeably and grimacing after each swing? Impressive, for sure – maybe as plucky a feat as there ever has been in sports.

But six years is still six years, and a lot has happened in those half dozen seasons. Tiger’s personal fall from grace and his subsequent return are certainly a feel-good story, but there is also the matter of his physical well-being. Tiger turned 38 last month and there have been a lengthy series of injuries between today and 2008.

38 years-old is hardly over-the-hill in golf or much else, for that matter. But 38 with a rash of health issues to recover from over the past six years is a special circumstance. In this sense, 38 ain’t 32.

Perhaps even more daunting to Tiger’s potential fortunes in 2014 is his recent record in majors. People make a big deal out of his not-so-near-miss in the 2013 Masters (believe it or not, the 15th hole did not singularly ruin his chances in the tournament), but after leaving Georgia, he really didn’t come close to winning any of the other majors.

Tiger was never a factor at Merion in the U.S. Open, finishing at +13 and tied for 32nd. True, he had a chance going into Sunday’s final round at the Open Championship in July, but faded down the stretch and ended up tied for sixth.

Finally, the PGA was a complete disaster for Tiger, where he struggled from beginning to end and tied for 40th.

Woods also rounded out the season with an uninspiring run through the FedEx Cup playoffs. Again, he was fighting an ailing back at the same time – but results are results.

It seems to me that Tiger is hampered just as much by his between-the-ears problems as with his physicality. His old coach, Butch Harmon, remarked that Tiger looks to have lost his nerve on short putts. But it appears to be more than that – when he’s “off,” his entire game goes south.

One need only look at Tiger’s execution down the stretch of several key tournaments last year to see that the “old” Tiger doesn’t really exist anymore. There aren’t any glaring examples of a “choke,” but there also aren’t any triumphant moments of victory.

Gone are the fist-pumps and coma-inducing stares. The Tiger aura has faded – his peers just aren’t afraid of him anymore, and I think he realizes it.

Which brings me to my final point: Tiger won’t win a major this year because the competition is too intense. Woods may still be ranked #1 in the world – and deservedly so – but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a host of good players who are capable of rising up during those four major weeks on the calendar.

Odds are that they will, just like they did in 2013 — and 2012, 2011, 2010 and 2009, too.

And that’s why Tiger will likely go empty-handed again in 2014.Image


Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Why we root for Phil Mickelson

I can’t say for sure, but I’m guessing there were a lot of smiles across America on Sunday morning. It’s always great to see a golf legend do something he’s never done before, but even more heartening when it’s someone who most of us relate to.

Golf fans have lived and agonized with Phil Mickelson for two decades, and to see him come through at the Open Championship was a moment we won’t ever forget. Mickelson hugged his longtime caddy, shook hands with some officials and then received a minute-long group hug from his lovely family after it was all over.

It was reminiscent of the embrace he shared with wife Amy after the 2010 Masters. Anyone with a heart was fighting back tears at that time, and I’m guessing there were a few more wet cheeks this year as well.

Why do we care so much? Mickelson is a wildly successful career athlete who’s won a lot more than most – and is rich beyond ordinary contemplation. He’s also made controversial comments at certain times, generating scorn from observers as a spoiled elitist who’s out-of-touch.

But perhaps it’s Mickelson’s blunt candor that endears him to so many. Phil’s reached the height of his profession, yet we’re still able to relate to him. On his walk to the 18th tee after making what must be considered the victory sealing birdie on Sunday, for example, Mickelson was still acknowledging the British fans, slapping hands and fist bumping a good many of them.

Here’s a man who was about to ascend to incredible heights, yet appeared to be soaking it in, all the same. And appreciating that others were along for the ride, too.

It was more than a moment. It was revealing.

We love Phil because we see ourselves in him. On the occasions that he’s fallen short (and unfortunately, there have been many), we’ve grieved with him. We’ve felt that sick feeling in the pit of our stomachs when Mickelson’s come close and lost. We’ve been hard on ourselves in just the same way he has – and that’s how we relate.

Phil isn’t Tiger Woods. Tiger routinely offers a long list of external reasons something went wrong. Phil blames himself. After last month’s runner-up finish in the U.S. Open (his sixth, by the way), he admitted that the loss really hurt and it would take time to get over it.

That’s something we don’t hear a whole lot from professional athletes, a “human side” that lets us in, for a brief moment, to what it’s like to fail in front of hundreds of millions.

Phil’s losses draw an audience. We “average-folks” are allowed to suffer in anonymity. Empathy isn’t often earned – or deserved – yet somehow this wealthy-guy golfer gets it.

Mickelson famously said “I am such an idiot” after blowing the lead on the 72nd hole of the 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot. It’s what we were all thinking at the time – but it was also something that most of us, if we were truly being honest, would have said in his place.

No, Phil, you’re not an idiot. You weren’t then – and now that you’ve finally captured golf’s oldest major championship, we all celebrate with you.

Now go get another for all of us.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Tiger fans — I don’t get ’em

“Do you think Tiger Woods is going to regain his form and dominate like he did before?”

“I hope not.”

The question belongs to me, the answer is attributed to an anonymous source whose name I won’t reveal without permission – but whose sentiments are not exactly rare in my experience.

Two and a half years removed from Tiger’s famous late-night, never-fully-explained fall from grace, he remains a subject of intense interest, and some controversy. Golf skills aside – and the endless deliberations over his golf swing – Tiger doesn’t appear to be much different now than he did before his very-public personal unraveling.

But things are different with lots of people I’ve talked to. I’ll candidly admit that I’ve never been a fan of Woods because of his spoiled brat on-course behavior, but I’ve got to say – the re-adoration that many appear to be feeling for the guy is puzzling to say the least.

The roars that accompanied Woods in his second post- collapse Tour victory at the Memorial were reminiscent of the “old” Tiger, and so were the slobbery statements emanating from the TV commentators who witnessed Woods’ Sunday charge. Woods holds the Tour “hostage” in the sense that so much of its media generated revenue is tied to the man, but MUST we endure this senseless adulation again?

See the anonymous fan’s statement above. Most of the golf enthusiasts I know can’t stand Tiger Woods, and it’s not because they’re intolerant of his ethnic heritage or unforgiving (or un-accepting) of his personal history. No one is perfect, and I’ve always found that people are usually open to sinners who repent.

The difference is, Woods has repented – but he hasn’t changed.

Who knows whether he’s still traveling the world and sending emissaries to round up girls. It doesn’t matter, either.  Despite promises that he would do better between the ropes and in front of the microphone – after his epiphany and months of counseling – he still swears, still scowls and still has the same disrespect for the game and fans that he’s always had.

He ain’t no Phil Mickelson.

Yet some people can’t get enough of Tiger’s drool. Throw the CBS folks in there with him (though I like all of them and they do a fantastic job, they need to stop portraying Woods as superman – he’s not). Woods’ galleries are as large as ever, and they still roar at every Woods shot.

Why, I ask?

Is being great at golf enough to allow you to put aside your better instincts in assessing this guy as a jerk? Can you like someone you don’t respect?

Woods should be working as hard on his personality as he is on his golf swing, then maybe he’d be able to muffle some of his cussing and otherwise atrocious public persona. Why do people still get into this?

I don’t get it.

In the meantime, I guess I’ll just have to be satisfied in being a member of the anti-Tiger fan club, which includes most of the people I know – and we’ll all just have to hold our stomachs while the pro-Tiger folks get their jollies off of scowls, glares, whining and a host of fantastic golf shots.

Is it enough? Not for me, man.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized