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Monday, August 13, 2012

Tiger Still Taking Weekends Off

The one song you won’t find on Tiger Woods iPod, “Everybody’s Working for the Weekend” by Loverboy. If you’re not familiar with the 80’s hit by the Canadian band, the song speaks of taking care of business during the week so you can have a great time on Saturday and Sunday. Having fun on the weekend is the last thing that’s been taking place for Woods this year at least as far as major golf tournaments are concerned. How bad has it been, or how bad has Tiger been? On the first two days of the Masters, U.S. Open, British Open and PGA Championship combined this golf season, Woods is a combined -8 under par. That’s the stuff championships are made of. Make the cut, get yourself established high on the leaderboard and possibly lead the tourney after 36 holes. From there, pull away a little on moving day and then on Sunday when everyone else falls by the wayside, seal the deal with a few clutch putts and finish off a major by knocking down a couple of jaw-dropping birdies. That was the old Tiger. This Tiger however, has suddenly forgotten how to execute when it really counts. Over the course of the final two days of all the four majors combined in 2012, Tiger is an astounding +15 over par. Now, Woods has never been known as a come from behind champion. As a matter of fact, Tiger has always at the least, shared the lead after 54 holes, in all of the 14 majors he has won. That means his Thursday and Friday play is usually impressive to just get to that point. In three of the four majors this season, Tiger has been in serious contention after 36 holes, leading twice. That was the case in this past weekend’s PGA Championship at Kiawah Island. Woods was tied with both Vijay Singh and Carl Pettersson at -4 under par heading into Saturday’s action. But after shooting a 75 at the U.S. Open and then a 74 in round three of the PGA Championship, Woods gave himself too much ground to make up on both Sundays, never challenging over the course of the final 18 holes in either event. He finished tied for 11th in the final major of the year, going winless in 2012. So how the world is it that Tiger Woods suddenly does not know how to set himself up on Saturday and close out on Sunday? Well according to Woods, “I was trying to enjoy it, enjoy the process of it,” Woods told (meaning his Saturday round of two over par). “But that’s not how I play. I play full systems go, all out, intense, and that’s how I won 14 of these things. That’s something I rectified and I played a lot better because of it”. (Talking about his round of 72 on Sunday.) But the damage was done as he started the final round five shots back of eventual champion Rory McIlroy. When the 23-year-old player from Northern Ireland scorched his way to a final round 66, Tiger was never a factor, finishing 11 shots back. Part of the problem for Tiger continues to be his putting. After knocking down putt after putt in the first two rounds, he managed just five birdies over the weekend. So another full season of majors is in the books as Tiger’s winless streak of the only tournaments that really matter is now up to 18 majors, counting the fact he didn’t play in four of those due to injury. At 36 years old, the question on whether or not Woods will surpass Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 career major victories has now become serious! Tiger Woods pressing too much in the final 36 holes of a major? That was never the case earlier in Tiger’s career but that was also before his cheating scandal rocked his world and the golf world in general. While Tiger has brought his game back to win three tournaments this season after a drought of a couple of years, he is far from the dominant player of the past, that was working for the weekend and enjoying it because he won. With three shots to retake that form in 2012 and coming up short in each attempt, one can only assume the presser heading into the 2013 season will only mount. Woods ineptness of weekend play in majors this year marks the first time of his career he’s failed to at least break par once. Whether or not it is a distinct sign of decline will only be told by Woods play in future Masters, U.S. Opens, British Opens and PGA Championships. But the race to catch Jack is now reaching a critical stage with another season of majors in the books and nothing to show for it by weekends end.

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