Let’s just cut to the chase: is Tiger Woods done? No, he’s not, but he’s beginning to get my pity. And, trust me, that’s much worse.
Should we be excited at the thought of a Sunday afternoon charge at Augusta National? Absolutely. The thought of Tiger Woods slipping into a green jacket on April 14 would cause outright carnage in the sporting world. But I doubt he’ll get anywhere close.
To write him off is a dangerous game. Problem is, there isn’t much to suggest that Tiger is now anything other than a guy in the chasing pack. In my mind, he has as much chance of winning The Masters as Matt Kuchar. For it to happen, he has to effectively hope the best players in the world don’t turn up. It’s almost disrespectful to think that, never mind say it, considering it’s Tiger Woods. But that’s where we are.
Take the weekend performance at The Players. On the Friday, Woods walked on to the 17th at Sawgrass in a tie for eighth, literally in the chasing pack. After dunking two in the drink, he stood on the 18th tee tied for 54th. Right there, his tournament was over. And nobody was really that surprised.
The following day, we got another glimpse of the ‘new’ Tiger. He returned to 17 giggling, as if trying to pass off the previous day’s drama as a bit of a laugh. Then came the putting green banter with Kevin Na. Woods is now more concerned with damage limitation than anything else. He is slowly but surely becoming a media darling, a PR machine, almost as a means of staving off criticism.
He’s mellowed, and that’s sad to see. To me, the desire isn’t what it used to be. He’s now nice to people. Remember: this is the guy that used to practice at 5.30am so he didn’t have to talk to anyone.
Golf Channel reporter Ryan Lavner summed up Tiger’s 2019 best. Describing his prep for Augusta, Woods said: “It’s right on track.” To which Lavner tweeted: “Tiger hasn’t finished within eight of any winner this year”.
People think he could win The Masters? I’m not buying it. Right now, there are just better players out there.
I’m genuinely not sure he’s got the game to compete with the vast majority of guys in the world’s top ten. In the four events he’s played this year, he’s had one top ten. The Tour Championship win in September was a great comeback story of sorts, no doubt, but the cynic in me still points to the limited field. He hasn’t won a regular, full field PGA Tour event in 51 tries. And, at the moment, he isn’t a serious enough threat.
He also doesn’t play enough, which isn’t helping his case. He’s played 24 events worldwide in three years thanks to recurring injuries. As his withdrawal from Bay Hill a few weeks ago proved, there is more conjecture about Woods’ injuries these days than there is about him being one of the favourites to win an event. Just over a decade ago, a bookie would give you around 10/1 for Woods to win all four majors in one season. Now, he’s the fifth favourite to win the Masters at 14/1.
The decline is happening right in front of us and it’s sad to watch. If there is to be one last hurrah, I hope the Tour Championship wasn’t it. But my gut instinct says we’ve seen the best of him - more’s the pity.
Tiger at The Masters - your thoughts?
Do you agree with Bryce that Tiger won't get close to winning at Augusta National next month? Or do you fancy his chances of winning major championship No.15? Leave your thoughts in our Comments section below.