Friday, July 17, 2009
No Point in Bashing Tiger
Sure, he missed the cut. And yes, he played like an absolute dog for long stretches at Turnberry this week. These are facts, and hard to hide from.
After a birdie on the 7th hole on Friday, Tiger Woods looked like he had found what he needed to find to get his golf game going. So many times in these majors where he didn't exactly "have it," Tiger would muster a few birdies up, keep the bogeys to a minimum and get through rounds without his best stuff, like the way college kids take pointless exams just a touch hungover.
The problem was, that birdie there was about it. Bogeys on the 8th and 9th holes, followed by two double-bogeys on the way in forced Tiger to fly home two days earlier than expected (And, as my dad said, I'm sure he is already in the air as I type this).
Here are some truths we must live with when evaluating the performance of Woods:
-- Truth. Tiger created the expectations we live with. He won all the time and was always in the hunt at majors and won four in a row and created the Tiger Slam and all that. Because of what he has done in the past, it is easy to hold him at a different standard.
-- Truth. Tiger seems to still be fighting a golf swing that can't always produce the result he wants. When Tiger's swing is clicking, it is a beautiful day in paradise. The difference in Tiger '09 and Tiger '01 is that you never know what day it will be clicking. This week it wasn't, and when you're swinging a club with little loft (driver or long irons) those flaws are exposed.
-- Truth. Tiger can't always be the man we want him to be. No matter your take on Woods, you still want him to be around on the weekend. This tournament, like the British and PGA of last year, will be lacking something (especially since Phil Mickelson is also not around).
I just hope we can get over this without continually questioning what has become of Tiger Woods. He is still a great golfer that does things nobody else on tour can do and he hasn't won three majors in a row and that isn't the end of the world. In his last four majors he has played, he's 25 percent. I'm pretty sure crying wolf at this point is a little premature and unwarranted on a ton of levels (not to mention, makes you look far from a golfer).
PETER MUHLY, AFP/Getty Images