One the biggest story lines coming out this weekend’s PGA tournament in Whistling Straits is yet another missed cut for Tiger Woods. If you’re keeping score at home, that is now 3 straight missed cuts in majors for Woods who is now ranked 278th in the official world rankings after being the top golfer in the world for so many years. His downfall has been absolutely shocking. If someone would have told me about 7 years ago that Woods would be the 278th ranked golfer in the world on August 16th 2015, I would have asked what drugs he or she is on. Back then, Tiger could probably play left-handed and still be in the top 100. It was not a question on whether Woods could break Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major champion wins, but rather when. He dominated the sport in a 10 year stretch that few golfers ever have. I have never seen in all my years of watching sports such a high-profile athlete fall like Woods has.
So what is the problem with Woods? Why has he fallen so dramatically? These questions get constantly asked by the golf pundits. The Golf Channel’s crew at the PGA spent a considerable amount of time talking about Tiger’s game and whether he will ever win another major. The consenus of many in the gold world is that Woods is finished as being a top flight golfer and will be just another regular average golfer from now on. As a fan of the sport and player, I am definitely in the minority in saying that Woods still has some bullets left in his gun; he is not finished by any means. It would not shock me in the least to see him rise back again to a high level and possible win a few more majors.
There has been a lot of talk about Woods having multiple swing coaches during his career and whether that is really a good thing for him or any golfer. My question is why change a good thing? Even when Woods was dominating and hitting the ball well, he was constantly changing his coaches. He had some of the best coaches in the game. Apparently, Woods is one of these guys who can never be satisfied with his golf swing. Perhaps he was and is still too much of a perfectionist. A good golf swing should be a simple natural motion. No matter how ugly it may look, the only thing that matters is for consistent results. Woods needs to go back to Butch Harmon and get his swing straightened out.
Sure, Woods at times has had problems with his swing but in order for him to really achieve greatness again, his short game really has to come around. During his glory days, Tiger used to be money on those clutch short putts. Nowadays, he is really struggling to make anything! Forget about fixing his swing, if his putting and chipping do not improve, Woods will definitely not come back and win anything. Sometimes I feel like I am watching a 20 handicapped golfer when I see Woods trying to chip the ball or ball out of a bunker. It is even more shocking to see him struggle in that part of the game as opposed to swing.
Many people who cover golf fail to mention the effect of his injuries in recent years. A back problem is very toxic to any level golfer. Woods has battled back issues in recent years and that could be why he has suddenly dropped off. It appears that Woods is recovering nicely from those injuries and that may be key in helping him regain his winning ways. I doubt any golfer with back issues can play at a high level. The margin of error in golf these days is just too small. There are just too many good players, especially younger players. His injuries are definitely a reason that he has fallen so dramatically.
Whether you like or hate Woods, you have to admit that his return to greatness would be huge for the world of golf. Imagine a major with him, Jordan Speith and Rory McIlroy competing for the title? It would create interest that golf has never seen. I still believe it will happen eventually. Sure Woods will be turning 40 this year, but let’s not write his obituary just yet. If anyone can come back, it’s Woods. He still has a little bit of gas left in his tank to compete at a high level and beat some of the young phenoms in golf. He may not dominate golf again like he used to, but he could soon be a strong contender in many tournaments.