Monday, December 6, 2010

Graeme McDowell Takes Down Tiger Woods

I can list a dozen names that had a chance to beat Tiger Woods and couldn't do it. Bob May. Chris DiMarco. Steve Scott. Sergio Garcia. Rocco Mediate. Matt Gogel, and that is just a few off the top of my head.

But the 2009 PGA Championship changed a lot of it for people playing against Tiger. When Y.E. Yang stared down the once incredibly closer and beat him at his OWN game, it seemed the weight was lifted for PGA Tour members. "We can beat this guy," people started to think.

Then, as you well know, Thanksgiving happened, and all that was lost behind his persona life. It really was bad timing, because it would have been great to have 2010 be a regular season, and see how players responded with Woods on the ropes in another way (the Yang way, not the wang way).

Sunday at the Chevron World Challenge was a great example of where Tiger is right now; with his game, with his mental stability, with his competitors and with his fans. People LOVE to watch Tiger Woods play golf. That will never, ever change. People speak of the "it" factor, and in my lifetime, nobody has possessed that like Woods. Not Jordan, not LeBron, not Jeter, and not Federer. Tiger can make people care about golf that have never swung a 7-iron.

That was Sherwood. People were switching away from playoff-important football to watch Woods battle McDowell. The unknown from a year ago is now a major winner and a Ryder Cup hero. He has now won four events this season, including the Chevron, where he calmly rolled in birdie putts that nobody has EVER made on Tiger Woods (If you think back, Yang missed a short putt on the 71st hole at Hazeltine before making birdie on the 72nd, when par would have been good enough for victory).

It ended Tiger's season without a win. He took to Twitter and talked about how much he hates to lose. It was different, but fairly regular at this point.

As I noted over at Devil Ball, I don't think Tiger will ever be dominate again. Do I think he will win again? Of course, he is too talented not to win (much like I think David Duval will claim another PGA Tour title before he's done, I think Tiger will win a few more majors).

But Sunday was just an example of the PGA Tour, PI (post-intimidation). These guys aren't scared of Woods anymore, and anytime they're paired against him, they relish in the challenge. McDowell was the better golfer on Sunday. Nothing Tiger can do about that.

Getty Images


Anonymous said...

So McDowell not being scared of Tiger is why Woods missed those short putts yesterday?

I just don't think Tiger's all the way back yet. He can string together 2-3 rounds in a row, but the finishing hasn't returned.

The guy suffered a major injury, saw his entire personal life blow up in front of the world and changed his swing - all in less than two years.

Let's see where we are after an entirely healthy, controversy-free year before making proclamations about his ability to be dominant.

Patricia Hannigan said...

It's actually hard for most to remember the full extent to which Tiger dominated prior to Hazeltine and especially prior to the scandal.
And yes that dynamic has changed and ultimately it's probably the best thing that could happen to golf and possibly the best thing that could happen to Tiger.

Tiger will continue to excel because he's got the talent and the competitive nature, and as you say, the other players will now relish the opportunity to play against him... and his mystique - they won't cower and fall apart like they once did. How can this not be good? In 2011 I'm thinking we'll be seeing numerous replays of yesterday's action... Tiger and a worthy adversary going putt for putt on a Sunday afternoon. It may not make a huge dent in Sunday basketball, baseball and football ratings but it'll definitely improve golf's.

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Anonymous said...

First point is TW is not changing his swing. He is trying to get his old swing back. This falsehood buys him more time to get his mental game back by fooling the public. As he continues to lose, he can use it to say he is "getting closer" so everyone will cut him slack. Genius I say, genius!

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