Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Tiger Faces Another Major Challenge

It’s that time of the golf season again where all who care, ask the same question that’s been asked, since that November evening in 2009 when Tiger Woods had a minor accident in his SUV that turned into a major pain in the ass for the 14-time winner of golf’s biggest events. Is Tiger Woods really back? Well that depends on what exactly you mean. Has his game progressed to where he is once again he is considered the best player in the world? The answer is a very simple yes. Woods has won three times on tour in 2012 and is the leading money winner, even though he’s played three less events than second place Jason Dufner. With a victory this week in the Open Championship at Royal Lytham and St. Annes, Woods would once again become the world’s top ranked player. He was ranked 58th last season. Is he the same Tiger Woods that at one time captured four consecutive majors in a row? No, but is it realistic to think any golfer could make a run like that again in our lifetime, probably not. It’s no secret Woods hasn’t captured a major since his heroic effort at the U.S. Open in 2008 basically playing on one leg. Despite his recent return to form new swing and all, he finished 21st at this year’s U.S. Open after being tied for the lead after 36 holes. Before his falloff at Olympic he bogeyed his way to a tie for 40th at the 2012 Masters. Unfortunately for Tiger, winning majors is the standard fans and analysts hold him to. It the standard however that he set. It’s the standard that comes with wanting to be the labeled the greatest golfer of all time. Only three players have ever won more than 10 majors. Jack Nicklaus of course with 18; Tiger’s 14; and Walter Hagen with 11 titles. It’s not an easy thing to do, even for the best players in the world but it comes with the territory of that ultimate title Tiger has been longing for since turning professional in 1996. After all, he did win his first major shortly after in June of the next year, so why wouldn’t we all expect the journey to be an easy one after that start? The expectations for Woods have never really left; they’ve just been put on hold. Once again, he is an 8-1 favorite to win the British Open which would mean a fourth Claret Jug to his collection. With the way he has been playing of late, you have to give him the best shot at dealing with the obstacles that Royal Lytham and St. Annes challenges those who dare tee up on the first box. 205 deep bunkers that are not forgiving, almost sure to cost players a shot if they are visited. Rough that a lion would find sufficient for stalking prey and also there are the winds of Lancashire. Gust that are capable of taking one’s shot and landing it somewhere in the Irish Sea. Sounds like the perfect setting for separating the alpha male from the rest of the pack doesn’t it? The 2012 golf season has already proven Tiger Woods has battled back from scandal, injuries, a swing adjustment and maybe even some self-inflicted doubt. But to truly end the speculation on just how far he’s come and where he’s headed, he needs to win a 15th major. He next shot begins on Thursday another opportunity to put an end to this major question.

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