RENSLOW: Will Tiger win again?
As you know, most of the topics covered in this column are the answer to your questions. Queries regarding the PGA Tour, the rules, even health and wellness, inspire each informative response.
Over the last few weeks, one question has been resonating. “Will Tiger win again?”
Of course, the topic has gained momentum as a result of Tiger being on the golf course more in the last couple of months than he was in the last couple of years.
We have to pause here for a moment. Writing about Tiger may be viewed as a sensitive subject. On balance, golfers and non-golfers alike are more familiar with his not-so-distant indiscretions than his time in the operating room.
During countless junior golf instructional camps, we would teach youngsters by encouraging them to grow their game and be more “like Tiger Woods.” Can’t say that anymore.
Arguably the greatest golfer of all time will always have an asterisk next to his name in the minds of many. To the point that we almost forget that he just may be the greatest of all time.
Yet. That’s who he is.
Not to discount the flaws and frailty, which we all possess. But, I tend to think about the greats in other sports. Babe Ruth notably had his issues. It is rumored that Michael Jordan had his little foray into professional baseball, because the NBA was all over of him for gambling on games. Does this make them less remarkable on the field?
Bearing that in mind, we choose to admire Tiger on the course and let others judge his personal life.
So, to answer your question – Yes, Tiger will win again. It might even be this week.
His return to the Tour is different this time. Over a year ago, he played in one event (likely obligatory for sponsorship reasons) and then didn’t see a competitive round for months.
He played in this same event near the end of 2017 and, candidly, I was wondering if we were getting more of the same. Play an event, essentially because you have to, then back into golf seclusion.
However, this is different. Tiger started off his 2018 season in San Diego at a very familiar Torrey Pines Golf Course. For those of us who know Tiger’s game and golf swing, we knew that he was not his “old self.” But, he seemed healthy. He did not appear to be wincing or limping during or between swings.
What it looked like was a man favoring a former bad back. It was as if he was uncertain and did not want to reintroduce a past pain.
Without getting into details (which would be nearly impossible in text anyway), a player has to “get through the ball” with their right side in order to consistently send a ball on-line. When a player does not do this, due to health or technique, the ball will tend to leak or be “pushed.”
This was Tiger’s miss all week. For driver shots and iron shots, this was the error. Nonetheless, he finished 23rd. An impressive finish for most, but Tiger does not have the same margins everyone else has.
After missing the cut at Riviera Country Club, where he has historically not played well, he finished 12th at the Honda Classic. The difference, the improvement was clear. It took him a couple of months and a dozen competitive rounds, but he was finally getting though the ball. We could see it.
Fast forward to this week. On the Florida swing, Tiger and the PGA Tour is making the stop at Tampa Bay and the Valspar Championship. After two rounds, Tiger is in a tie for second, just two shots off the lead.
Here’s the thing, from this writer’s point of view. There are just so many people on the planet who have the mind of a champion, blessed or earned. How many people will continue to push themselves once they have more money and resources than they and their grandkid’s grandkids could ever spend?
The question has been, is his body capable of supporting the demands of his brain? After watching the last few weeks, I believe so. And, if his body is strong enough, he will win. Let’s take a look this weekend. He’ll be in the final grouping on Golf Channel.
John Renslow is a PGA Class A Professional and Instructor at Alta Sierra Country Club. Please contact John with your questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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