Tiger Woods: Major or Bust


Tiger Woods is one of the most successful and wealthiest athletes in this modern era. He changed the sport of golf for the better and arguably will go down in sports history as one of the most iconic sports figures of all time. That is a monumental accomplishment considering he’s a golfer. His run in golf at the turn of century will always be remembered as one of his highest levels of play, but it was a long time ago. With 13 Majors, it wasn’t a matter of if Woods would pass Jack Nicklaus for most majors won, but when would it happen.


Tiger won the 2008 U.S. Open by defeating Rocco Mediate in a playoff on a surgically repaired knee. Ironically and sadly, this was the last major he has won. And last time I checked my iPhone, it did read May 2013. It’s been almost five years and the new normal question for Woods is, “Will he ever win a major again?” A lot has happened to Tiger on and off the course. By now, most people are aware that Woods is human and like all athletes, subjected to the temptations that the fame and power that famous athletes experience. He divorced the mother of his two children and bottomed out when he checked himself into a sex addition rehab center.


However, Tiger still has many fans and followers, myself included, eager to get a taste again of what we witnessed back in 2001. Without Tiger dominating the sport, golf is not as exciting as a viewer. With Tiger, so goes the sport of golf. With the chase of the major streak, so gives us a story of anticipation and fascination of every major that is played. He needs five to tie and six to beat Nicklaus’ record, but winning one major is looking pretty good at this point.


Tiger has slowly improved and revamped his golf game in the past years, giving the fans hope and optimism that we might once again be seeing the Tiger of old. He has had new swing coaches, therapists and a new caddy desperately trying to help reestablish himself as the sport’s top golfer. He has indeed won his fair share of tournaments, thankfully helping himself regain his spot as the number one golfer in the world. Nothing against Lee Westwood or Luke Donald, but they were the Millard Fillmore and Rutherford B. Hayes of that spot.


Tiger just won The Players Championship in compelling fashion this weekend at TPC Sawgrass in Florida. He won by two strokes and had a competitive moment with Sergio Garcia that added to the tournament’s headline. “(Sergio’s)….always complaining about something,” Tiger muttered, reminding us who’s the top dog in the sport. Tiger has already won four tournaments this year, the fastest he has won four ever in his career. But the only one that matters at this point in his life is major titles. And this year, he is 0 for 1.


Going into this year’s Masters, he was hyped again as usual as everyone’s pick to win. With the improvement of Tiger’s game and hope restored amongst golf’s experts, the fact still remained that Tiger had not won a major since 2008. Every major that has gone by, Tiger has been a favorite and every one has gone by without him winning it. As a matter of fact, I cannot even recall him seriously contending recently. Going into this year’s Masters, however, something seemed different with his game. The putter. The putting stroke, where nothing was missed under ten feet, was back. The 50-foot snake putts were showing up in his game again like a forest in the Amazon jungle. The fist pumps were back like a club at the Jersey Shore. Energy was there. Confidence was rising.


In this year’s Masters, Tiger hung around after the first round, and made his move after day two. Just when we thought Tiger was ready to re-break through for a major title, we found out that Tiger literally and figuratively dropped the ball toward the end of his second round. He committed a rules infraction when dropping his ball after hitting his shot into the water. After the media scrutiny and an additional two-stroke penalty, Tiger once again faded out of major contention. He said he played well, but actually playing well and winning are two different things. He still has three majors left this year, but it seems as if Tiger does not break through with a major victory in the next year or two, we might be justified in wondering if he will ever win another one.


Tiger will be the favorite going into next month’s U.S. Open and he should be. He is the world’s number one golfer. He has already won four tournaments this year including The Players Championship, which he has not won since 2001. We remember that year for him, right? He looks to have that Tiger swag back. The staredown during his putting routine. The fierce look in his eye as a ball is in flight toward the pin. The red shirt on Sunday seems brighter than ever. He even is openly dating Lindsey Vonn, professional skier. Not that he wasn’t before, but he is doing quite well right now for himself, on and off the course.
However, in this golf fan’s eyes, the above details mean nothing to me if Tiger is not winning majors. And if he does not win one soon, I fear he might not win one for a long time. He is 37 and in golf that still allows many opportunities to win, but the pressure will continue to mount when a golfer that talented does not win for a period of time. See Phil Mickelson. But once Phil won his first major at Augusta, he quickly won three more. For Tiger, I believe if he wins one this year, he will get that proverbial newfound monkey off his back, and begin the final quest to break Jack Nicklaus’ major record. Show us what you got Tiger. We all desperately want to see it.


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Paul Culley
Sports Activist for The Cover 4

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