These are strange times on the PGA Tour. You have kids under 25 like Patrick Reed (4 wins), Justin Spieth (2), and, of course, world No. 1 Rory McIlroy (10 wins), dominating leaderboards while sultans of swing Tiger Woods & Phil Mickelson, with a combined career 121 wins, missing cuts.
Not only did the 2014 PGA Tour produce more players earning over $1 million (95), there was a monumental changing of the guards in on-course supremacy. The numbers show a staggering decline by 44-year old Mickelson, and 39 -year old Woods. In any sport but golf you’d hear murmuring of “retirement.” But professional golfers never retire, even Arnold Palmer, who just turned 86, never announced his retirement from the game.
While Phil’s demise to mediocrity is expected, the future looks foggy for Tiger’s game. Since the start of last season, that includes 56 weeks and nine PGA Tour starts, Woods has three missed cuts, had three withdrawals due to injury and three measly paychecks for finishing 25th, 69th and 80th. These astonishing statistics lead to the obvious question “Will Tiger ever win again?”
Yes, Tiger Woods will win again and he’ll win this year. Everyone and their cousin can stop hyperventilating and quit offering unsolicited swing advice to the greatest player ever. Have you ever heard more crap, gibberish from empty-suits, all trying to prognosticate what ails Tigers chipping game? Give me a break. A few bad rounds, a bunch of chunks and skulls, and a few stabbed putts is nothing to get choked up about. Chill out – please! While you’re chilling, glance at a medical dictionary to look up the meaning of “deactivated glutes.” I think it’s something off a Chinese food menu.
Even though The Great One popped out an ugly 82 at the Phoenix Open on January 30, a score that Tim Geary would delight in, Woods has become accustomed to intense public scrutiny when he posts one bad round. When he posts two bad rounds it’s a full-blown world crisis. Even the Almighty Woods can make several pedestrian chilly dips while competing. Let me remind naysayers like Mr. Geary, who wrongly predicted a Seattle victory over the Patriots in the Super Bowl, that we are talking about the Superman of Golf. Not some jamoke like David Duval or Anthony Kim, whose fall from the top echelon of the sport was worse than moving from a penthouse condo with ocean view into a trailer park mobile home, next to a dumpster.
Shooting high scores is embarrassing, but history has proven that Tiger Woods can overcome supreme personal embarrassment, after his 2009 escapades with hookers and fire hydrants were exposed. Name another player more comfortable finding the winner’s circle? Only two years ago, Tiger won five times. That’s a happy career for most pros. Should I mention he has 14 majors and was named PGA Tour player of the year 11 times, including his amazing 2013?
There’s no crystal ball on Tiger’s future but this is the way I see it starting in March. A few more missed cuts to get the rust out and tens and thousands of opinions that he’s toast. Tiger will make the cut at the Masters but is not a factor and unlikely to finish top-10 in the other majors. A return to No. 1 is out. Maybe one major in the next four years is possible but Nicklaus’ record of 18 is safe. So the 2015 season is not lost once Woods is fired up, comfortable and confident with his short game and, most important, healthy. There is no reason why he can’t win four times in his 40s to break Sam Snead’s record of 82 titles.
Tiger Woods has compiled the greatest career record of his generation and it’s far from over!
(Tom Gorman once called a Chinese restaurant to order deactivated glutes with a side order of maximus glutes. It was bitter-sweet.)WHAT'S YOUR REACTION?