Teed Off (Jul 27, 2014)
with Robert Bicknell
Can we finally stock a fork in Tiger Woods and call him done?
Surgery or no surgery, they guy simply cannot play to the level required on the PGA Tour today. His swing changes are a disaster, his putting lacks confidence and his overall demeanor is that of a beaten man whistling in the dark past a graveyard. You cannot beat anyone with that set of tools, especially if they're not afraid of you anymore.
And they're not.
Gary Player, who is a legend in every sense of the term, came out publicly and said that if Tiger kept his year 2000 swing, he would have already surpassed Nicklaus's record. This isn't anything new as most people know this, but the difference is that somebody of Player's reputation would say it.
Hey, if Faldo, Curtis Strange or any other TV commentator says it, Woods can pass it off as sour grapes, but when Gary Player says it, it carries a lot of weight.
Tiger's best swing was during his college days. Butch Harmon made some changes which helped his consistency and Hank Haney (according to his book) built the Tiger which dominated the world. In truth, Haney didn't do much except whine for popsicles and blow his horn loud enough to be a full brass section. Tiger would have been great with or without Haney, so he's a non-entity in my book.
Sean Foley, the man nobody ever heard of will go down in history as a losing coach as Tiger's collapse happened on his watch. Fair or not, that's the way it is. Personally, I am disgusted with Tiger's new Foley swing.
Rory McIlroy made a NIKE commercial with Tiger last year which set a tone of young vs old, but being an ad (ie, complete fantasy) of course Tiger comes out on top and teaches the kid a thing or two. The ad was actually quite prophetic as it was clear who the dominant force was (emphasis on was), and what was to come. It was a passing of a torch and now the prophecy has become reality.
In the Open Championship, Rory was a tour de force. He put on a clinic which demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt who was in charge. This was his event and he would not be denied. I have never seen him so focused and determined. This was the Rory McIlroy that NIKE invested so much money in, and the kid everyone hoped he would grow to become.
They weren't disappointed.
Ricky Fowler also showed another side to him, complete with haircut and a Johnny Depp moustache and chin tickler. It was a much better look and I think it also contributed to his performance on the course. Unfortunately, he seemed to forget that we do not play for second place in the Open Championship and was content to simply cruise through the last round without actually putting pressure on Rory McIlroy, which was a shame.
Champions are not born or made, they are forged in the pressure of the situation and while young McIlroy showed great stuff in the event, he didn't quite endure the high heat and pressure which could have been brought to bear if Fowler and Garcia had stepped up their games a bit more.
Still, we can see that Ricky Fowler is a force to be reckoned with in the near future.
Sergio Garcia, on the other hand, is a different kettle of fish altogether.
It looked for a while like Sergio was ready to shed his moniker of BPNTHWAM (Best Player Never To Have Won A Major) and was in contention throughout the event. Unfortunately, Sergio is Sergio and always seems to find new ways to snatch defeat from the mouth of victory. In this case, it was a bunker shot which was a complete and total brain fart that killed his chances. After something like that, it's hard to pull yourself together, unless you're Tiger Woods in your prime.
Which brings us to Tiger and the Ryder Cup.
Personally, I think Tom Watson should leave Tiger out, but he won't be able to as the sponsors will howl for blood. Tiger is a walking money generator and without him, winning or not, viewership is down.
Tiger, come to Viet Nam and I'll fix your swing for free…