Sunday, January 29, 2012
Is This a Huge Blow to Tiger's Big Season?
One of the sneaking things about results is just how little they tell about what happened. In 20 years, people will see that Novak Djokovic won the 2012 Australian Open, but few will realize just how intense his five-set semifinal and final matches were, and how long he battled against Rafael Nadal before he was able to prevail.
Before the week, if you had told me that Tiger Woods would finish third at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, I probably would have told you that such a finish would be a great start to Tiger's year. Face it, he hasn't played his best golf the last few years, and a third place finish in such a talented field at a golf course he has never seen isn't so bad anymore for Woods. He tells us he wants to win, but it isn't 2001 anymore, and top-3s are actually good weeks for Tiger.
But the way he went about his third place finish this week in the United Arab Emirates could actually be a deficient for Tiger's season. Woods entered the final round tied for the lead with Robert Rock, a rather unknown to most of the golf world if not for his flowing locks, and was flat outplayed by the Englishman.
Rock shot 69, good enough for a one-shot lead over Rory McIlroy, while Tiger faded with an inconsistent round of even par.
The thing about Tiger's round wasn't just the score, but the swings. He was wiping shots, pulling shots, and missing mid-irons 15 yards short of greens. He wasn't getting up and down when he needed to. His play was very reminiscent of what has gone wrong the last couple of years to leave him winless in events with more than 18 players.
Tiger will surely tell the media he is going to take positives away from this, as he always does, but will he really? Is being in a position to win and then failing a boost to your attitude or another reminder that you just aren't the same golfer?
I'm thinking that with this, Tiger will definitely be feeling the latter.