Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Prepare To Be Miserable, Tiger Haters

Its just a matter of time, people. After battling fire hydrants, 4 irons swung at his big teeth by his ex wife, knee and wrist injuries, Gloria Allred, and the occasional Perkins' waitress, Tiger Woods is on the cusp of reaching the mountain top once again.

In the days since his 75 on Sunday in the final round at Pebble, I've heard the likes of Rick Reilly and Curtis Strange try and dissect what's wrong with Tiger, and how he's lost his confidence. Maybe there is some truth to the "confidence" analysis, but with each passing tournament, the numbers are foreshadowing something else.

In light of the PR disaster Tiger put himself through over the last two years, I think the confidence argument is fair, so you're not really going out on a limb when you question it, RRRRRRick. Throw in the fact that Tiger is a year older and there is a new crop of much younger players on tour every year, and its arguably tougher for him to win and compete on a regular basis.

So put that in perspective for a minute, you geniuses.

Having said that, Tiger is improving, and he will be in the winner's circle very, very soon. Compared to some of his forgettable rounds in the early and middle parts of 2011, what Tiger has done over the last 3 months, should give guys like Rick Reilly (and the rest of the Tour) pause.

Other than a Sunday charge at Augusta in April, most of Tiger's 2011 was a disaster. A front nine 42 and withdraw at the Players', he missed the US Open because of injury, and he played in, but missed the cut at the PGA Championship.

Collectively- not counting his 42 at the Players', his competitive rounds last summer were 68-71-72-70 (Bridgestone), and 77-73 (PGA). That's 5 out of 6 rounds in the 70s, and two 9's in the 40's: the 9 holes he played at the Players' and the front 9 in Round 1 at the PGA, in which he shot a 40.

Fast forward to the second week of November, and Tiger's appearance down under at the Australian Open. The field had 4 of the Top 10 players in the world, and Tiger shot 68-67-75-67, finishing 3rd by himself. He then won his own tournament in December, the Chevron. Granted, that tournament only had 18 players in the field, but 3 of them were Top 10 players in the world (Jason Day, Steve Stricker, and Webb Simpson), and Tiger shot rounds of 69-67-73-69.

In January Tiger played in Dubai, and finished T-3, finishing higher than the World's #1 and #2, Luke Donald and Lee Westwood. And then there was this past weekend at Pebble.

Tiger had a bad Sunday, no doubt, but he still put together rounds of 68-68-67 on the first 3 days of the event, and his ball striking, for the most part, was noticeably improved. In fact, statistically, Tiger ranked 1st in Greens in Regulation from 75 yds or less, and 1st in distance to hole, from approaches in the 175-200 yard range.

In summary, Tiger shot in the 70s in 5 of the 6 rounds he played last summer. Since November, Tiger has shot in the 70s 5 times, however, that was over the course of 16 rounds. And during that span, he made the cut in all 4 of the events he played, finishing Top 3 or better in 3 of the 4 events.

Also, coming off a summer in which he only shot in the 60's once (68 in Round 1 of the WGC), Tiger has shot 67 or better five times since Australia.

Tiger's putting is his Achilles heel right now. He ranked a putrid 62nd in last week's Pebble event, but that should improve with more competitive rounds and practice. In fact, Tiger announced yesterday that he's about to play 3 straight weeks of competitive golf, committing to the Honda Classic (an event he hasn't played since 1993) after next week's match play event.

Look out Tour, a Tiger is on the prowl again.

I wonder if Tiger would like to show the newly single Katy Perry his 3 wood

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