Winning majors is no longer easy for Woods
Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO
It was supposed to be a sure thing, money in the bank, a gimme.
Tiger Woods’ pursuit to become the greatest golfer in history was just a formality, and the only question that lingered would be when, and not if, he would eventually pass Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major championships.
And then everything came unraveled on a fateful November night in 2009, to put it kindly. The self-proclaimed indiscretions in his personal life provided us with enough late-night talk show fodder to rival Bill Clinton, and Tiger’s career path plummeted faster than the Greek economy.
Even so, give the man his due. It took nearly three years, but he climbed out of the gargantuan hole that he dug for himself and it paid off on the golf course – first, at Bay Hill with a victory in March, and then twice again in June, at the Memorial and the Congressional.
The only piece of the puzzle missing during his sensational comeback season was winning a major, and according to Tiger, it’s only a good year if you win a major.
Not this year.
It wasn’t meant to be, as Tiger ran his streak of consecutive majors without a victory to 18 after folding hard over the weekend at the PGA Championship, and once again, it was “moving day” that sent him into his downward spiral on Saturday, a familiar trend for Woods in three of the four majors this year.
Woods admits that winning a major is getting harder because the game is getting “deep,” but he respectfully neglects to mention why the game is getting so deep.
He’s the reason.
The latest generation of golfers, including Rory McIlroy, grew up on Tiger Woods. They studied him and watched how hard he trained. They learned about mental fortitude and witnessed his intensity firsthand, and they took to the practice range in droves because they all wanted to become the next Tiger.
Woods knows that the clock is ticking. He says that he has about 10 years, or 40 majors, to catch Nicklaus, but he’s still stuck on 14 major victories, four shy of Jack. And even though he didn’t win the last major of the year, he has a great shot at winning the FedEx Cup, which is worth a cool 10 mil. Not a bad payout for having a so-so year in his eyes.
It’s definitely better to live one year as a Tiger than 100 as a sheep.
Finally, tales from the crypt, otherwise known as letters from the geek’s mailbox …
“Are you ok?” Winslow writes. “Mike Trout is not the greatest baseball player. Have you forgot (sic) about players like Matt Kemp for example. And whats (sic) up with wanting to by (sic) the guy a beer that isn’t even legal to drink yet??? Wow, keep up the writing … it puts me right to sleep.”
Wow is right, Winthorpe. I didn’t want to “buy” him a drink until he turned 21, which he did right after my column ran.
That was kind of the point.
I haven’t “forgotten” about your beloved Dodger, Matt Kemp, either. Dude is an incredibly gifted baseball player, although his early-career stats pale in comparison to Trout’s.
For simplicity, let’s just skip Kemp’s first two seasons (2006 and 2007), because they weren’t all that great. Kemp had 18 home runs and 35 stolen bases in 155 games during his breakout season in 2008. Trout eclipsed both of those numbers in his first 87 games this year.
Time will tell which player is better over the long haul.
Jeff Sauer is a longtime western Colorado resident and former Roaring Fork Valley resident. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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