Tiger Woods dogged by his drought in majors
BY HERB GOULD Staff Reporter August 12, 2013 8:06PM
Updated: August 12, 2013 10:16PM
What’s wrong with Tiger Woods?
He’s not lapping the field the way he did when he was piling up 14 major championships by the age of 32. But he has five victories this year, including a seven-stroke rout the week before the PGA, to regain the No. 1 world ranking.
You would think a guy who covets majors would have found a way to add No. 15. When he won his 14th at the 2008 U.S. Open, it was reasonable to predict he would not only top Jack Nicklaus’ 18 major titles; he might go on to win 25.
That’s no longer in play.
By finishing 4-over par, tied for 40th, at the PGA won by Jason Dufner on Sunday, Woods extended his drought in majors to 18 appearances without a title. And while he has had nine top-10 finishes in that dry spell, that’s no consolation for a player who measures success by victories on golf’s biggest stage.
It’s perplexing because Woods, 37, still is stellar in virtually every aspect of the game of golf. He might not hit the ball as far as he used to, but he’s plenty long. He’s not the clutch putter he used to be, but he still has moments.
If he doesn’t seem to be as accurate as he used to be, he has compensated by using less club off many tees. And he was always more of a wizard at scrambling than not getting into trouble in the first place.
So what’s the problem? It’s not his game. It’s his mental approach.
He always was more intense than your average golfing legend, but now he is consumed by his major quest. Even while he denies that, you can almost hear his major clock ticking.
People make fun of Dufner for being deadpan. How about Tiger’s demeanor? When he hits a good shot, he practically grimaces. On average shots, he shows disgust. After a bad shot, it’s painful to watch.
“Is it concerning?’’ Woods said Sunday when asked about his drought in majors heading into its sixth year. “As I said, I’ve been there in half of them. So that’s about right.’’
Even with the half he’s been in, though, Woods hasn’t found ways to muster his best on Sundays. That’s not how Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus — the legends Tiger once seemed destined to walk with — played the game.
No matter what he says to us, somewhere inside he knows that. The great ones are at their best when it matters most.
Much has been made of Woods’ swing-coach changes. But it doesn’t matter whether he dumps Hank Haney for Sean Foley. Tiger doesn’t need a swing coach; he needs a life coach.
Dr. Phil might not be an appropriate choice. He’s too public. And Phil is clearly the wrong name for a Woods confidant.
But he needs to learn how to give himself a break, to keep things in perspective, to roll with the punches.
Exceptional people aren’t necessarily going to be happy. But Woods seems so intense, so unforgiving of imperfection, that it’s gotten in his way. In a major way.