July 22, 2013

Why is Tiger Woods still stuck on 14?

That's actually one of four interrelated questions.

The second is, when will he get off his winless schneid at golf majors?

The third is, will he catch or pass Jack Nicklaus' 18?

The fourth is, why can't Tiger win coming from behind?

And, the fifth is, when will Tigerholics, not just among fans, but golf writers like Jay Coffin with drivel like this, face reality?

That last one first: Not for some time.

Coffin said the reason Tiger can't win a major when he's not in the lead after 54 holes is because being behind at that point shows he's not playing great in general. That' AFTER he said that Ernie Els and Phil Mickelson, with 4 and 5 majors respectively, have both won twice coming from behind.

As long as the "holics" are going to engage in special pleading, they're not worth much more than the back of the hand from better-rounded golf fans.

In turn, Coffin's answer relates to question no. 4.

Real answer?

It's a mix of Woods' self-pressure at majors causing him to tighten up, the loss of his aura of invincibility since Y.E. Yang took him down in the final round of the 2009 PGA, and continuing struggles at times with the putter. (I'm setting aside issues with the driver since, at many Open courses, at least, and some U.S. Open ones, you can stuff the driver in the bag.)

Until he really proves he can win a major period, we should simply expect him not to, and for the reasons above.

So, until he learns how to stop "pressing" on the weekend, and making the psychological changes to make that happen, we shouldn't expect such changes.

It's interesting that, whether there's much in the way of results or not, a lot of top golfers work with sports psychologists, but Tiger doesn't.

I'm not saying he needs one. I am saying he probably needs to have and demonstrate the openness to consider having one. Until he does, he's not closer to a solution.

Will he catch or pass Jack? I give him one in three odds of catching, and one in four of passing. Certainly before he addresses question no 4.

I've answered no. 1, in part, with no. 4. I think the loss of intimidation is part of it. I'm also with Hank Haney, that Tiger-proofing the Masters seems to have worked. U.S. Opens still seem iffy given Tiger's current putting.

That leaves British Opens, but only when greens don't change, and PGAs.

Since I don't expect Tiger to win this year at Oak Hill, Tigerholics will have to wait until Royal Liverpool for the possibility of No. 15.

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