We can’t be certain if Tiger Woods will ever win another major (I vote: no), or win five more majors to break Jack Nicklaus’s record of 18 (please) or for that matter whether he’ll win another tournament. But there’s not another pro athlete today who inspires less confidence in his ability to win again than Woods.
Sometimes, it’s mental. Sometimes, it’s physical. Sometimes, it’s mental. (I felt the need to type that twice.)
Some of us were fooled two months ago at the Masters when Woods finished at a relatively impressive 5-under-283. Given he was coming off a last place finish on his home course at Isleworth, a missed cut at the Phoenix Open and a withdrawal at the Farmers Insurance Open, 5-under over four rounds represented a quantum leap.
But Woods is a mess again. Playing in his 15th Memorial at Muirfield Village in Ohio — a tournament he has won five times — Woods committed a nightmarish exacta: 1) He shot an 85 on Saturday, the worst round of his career, including a quadruple bogey eight on the 18th hole; 2) Even with improving by 11 strokes Sunday, his 2-over-74 left him with the worst 72-hole finish of his career: 14-over-302, including a tournament-ending double bogey.
The 85 inspired his shot from former long-time Sports Illustrated writer and author Dan Jenkins:
“This is a lonely sport,” Woods told reporters in Dublin, Ohio. “The manager is not going to come in and bring the righty or bring the lefty. You’ve just got to play through it. And that’s one of the hardest things about the game of golf, and it’s also one of the best things about the game of golf. When you’re on, no one is going to slow you down. When you’re off, no one is going to pick you up, either. It’s one of those sports that’s tough. Deal with it.
“For us, unfortunately, you have those days and they’re five hours long.”
If his game was half as good as his comments, he would be on the leaderboard.
There is no reason to root against Woods (unless you just don’t like him). He’s great for golf and sports in general. But he has done very little on the golf course for years to lead anyone to believe he will consistently compete at a competitive level, let alone win tournaments.
He had made significant improvement at the Masters and, for what it’s worth, his personal life had stabilized, as he dated pro skier Lindsey Vonn. But Woods and Vonn announced last month that their three-year relationship had ended. Given Woods’ generally fragile mental state, it’s worth wondering if that has affected his golf.
Woods’ next tournament will be the U.S. Open beginning June 18 at Chambers Bay, just outside of Tacoma, Wash. Woods’ last major win came in the 2008 U.S. Open, when he won a playoff over Rocco Mediate.
But that was seven years ago. Enjoy the memories, because I doubt we’ll see him win another major.
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