by Robert Bicknell
Still, it sure gave everyone a thrill up their leg to see Tiger trying to close in on Sunday like the old days. Oh wait, silly me, Tiger used to lead going into Sunday in the old days. My bad.
Anyway, Tiger was in the hunt on Sunday at the Open Championship, now he was in the hunt again in the PGA Championship, but both times failed to seal the deal. The only positive thing is that he was in the chase on the last days.
For me, the biggest problem facing Tiger Woods is that nobody is scared of him anymore.
In the old days, if Tiger was in a tournament, guys in the locker room would be wondering who is gonna get second place, but that no longer applies because he’s been away too long. All the top players came into their own without Tiger around, so they never experienced the Tiger effect.
It’s like the Golden Bear effect back in the day when Jack Nicklaus dominated. There were cheers when a player made a birdie, but the sound made when Nicklaus did it was a lot louder and has a different tone.
Same concept as the Tiger Roar.
So, Tiger is now facing multiple challenges on his quest to win another major. Heck, he has challenges just to win anything nowadays.
First of all, his age and physical condition are against him. He knows very well that one wrong swing could put him on the shelf for a few weeks or more. At the end of a tournament, he feels his age, believe me.
I’m much older than him, but remember my 40’s quite well. That’s when I began to make “my father’s noises” when getting up out of a chair, or out of bed. It’s that low, groaning “OYYY!” sound that is unlike any other…
Every morning the body aches a little more, and it takes longer to get moving. It’s no fun.
Secondly, Tiger must be having self-doubt issues no matter how he tries to act confident. Every professional athlete constantly battles his own inner voices. When nobody is around, in the dark of night right before sleep sets in, a little voice asks “do I still have it, or should I retire?”
Tiger must be asking himself these questions – even if he’ll never admit it. Until he gets a win of any kind in an event with the big names, he will be questioning himself and his confidence wavering.
Third, as mentioned earlier, Tiger doesn’t scare people anymore. If you cannot beat them first in their heads, you cannot beat them on the course. This is a simple fact.
In my opinion, Tiger tried to come back to early and when he was shanking his chips and putts, the younger upcoming guys quietly said to themselves: “He’s nothing. His game is gone.” And they stopped worrying about him. They respect his achievements, but they’re not afraid of him. Tiger needs to earn their respect again.
At that level, the top players are supremely confident in their abilities and a tournament is usually settled by who holds it together in the back stretch and whose putter is the hottest and this is where Tiger’s weakness is showing lately.
Sure, he’s making a charge, but the putter has been streaky. When it’s on, he nails everything. When it’s not, he three putts from 12 feet. This is a confidence issue more than anything else. When you’re confident in putting, the hole looks the size of a garbage can. When you’re not confident, the hole looks smaller than a shot glass.
Lastly, Tiger has been starting slower. In the old days he attacked the course like he was shot out of a gun. But nowadays he takes two days just to get into a groove. This is a sign of age and confidence. With every new tournament, he has to play himself back into contention instead of forcing everyone chase him.
It’s a lot easier to win a tournament when you’re leading going into the back nine on Sunday. It forces everyone else to take chances they don’t want to do.
Bottom line, Tiger needs a win to get back into a winning groove. — VNS