Looking back at the 2008 U.S. Open, as Tiger Woods outlasted Rocco Mediate and his own injuries to win his 14th major golf title, it appeared that the question was when, not if, Woods would surpass Jack Nicklaus’ record 18 major titles. Fast forward to right now, and note that Woods still has 14 majors. Woods has now gone winless in the last seven majors he has played in (he missed the last two of the 2008 season to recover from surgery). Since that last win, Woods has also had to deal with the crumbling of his carefully constructed persona, as details of his off-the-course activities became fodder for the tabloids.
Since the famous (or infamous) swing wife Elin took to Tiger’s Escalade last Thanksgiving, it’s been easy to make the connection that since his personal life went public, his golf game has suffered. To some extent, that could be true. It could also be true that Tiger may be putting it all together for another hot run filled with tournament victories. If the latter is the case, there isn’t much evidence to show for it in his results so far this year. In a year that many pundits figured set up nicely for Tiger to make a strong push toward getting closer to Nicklaus’s record, Woods has gone 0-for-3. Augusta, Pebble Beach and St. Andrews have been the scenes for seven of Tiger’s major triumphs, and yet he came up empty. Woods has also fired his longtime swing coach, and switched his putter for the British Open for three days. It seems that he is searching for the formula to bring him back to the win column. Yet, while he hasn’t won, he has finished fourth in both the Masters and the U.S. Open, while the 23rd place finish at the British Open may be cause for concern. By all accounts, his play at the Open hinged on his putting. While he hit the ball better off the tee, his putting seemed to let him down. For all of that though, he never made any serious threat at winning the Open Championship.
Throughout his amazing career, Woods has shown that he can be singularly focused at the task at hand on the golf course. He remains the most talented golfer on tour. He has always been a great finisher. It remains to be seen if he can regain the focus and marshal his talent and relentlessness to add to his victory total, or if he is forever in search of how to regain his golfing greatness.