Is Tiger back?

Today begins the Open Championship. A tournament that pays homage to the origin of the game with  it’s flat land, wind-strewn, gloomy coast style of play. Fittingly, it is also the oldest major championship. While all that is nice and dandy, the buzz about this event is not the heritage of the sport. It is about Tiger Woods.

“Is,” “Tiger,” and “back”, respectively, have been the three words revolving around the PGA tour all season, but much more so since he got his 3rd win of the season at Congressional a few weeks ago (the following week he managed to miss the cut, only his 9th time doing so, which received notably a low amount of attention given he won the previous week).

Most Sunday’s my response to this question is, “Fuck this washed up piece of shit. He’s worse than the guy in last place in the challenger league at the local par 3 course. He’ll never be back” followed by me throwing the remote at my sisters piece of shit Pomeranian. If you ask me a few days later when I’ve calmed down and all the zoloft has gotten out of my system, my answer is still that he isn’t and won’t be back. The difference between this answer and my previous answer is that the latter is not followed by a deep, deep depression but rather a more coherent and elaborate explanation.

It is a sad truth that we all need to face. He has had countless swing issues, multiple swing coaches, drama, drama and more drama. The dude lives under a microscope. I think we all forget sometimes that he is actually human and can breakdown when critics are watching his every move. Just think how you would feel being ousted in one of the biggest sports scandals ever. It goes without saying that you and I would have trouble functioning in daily life in a situation like that. It should go without saying that when you’re arguably the most paramount athlete in all of sports, not to mention the most mental of all sports, that you might be a little bit shaken up from the whole world becoming aware of your deepest, darkest secrets, but apparently it must be said. Even to me on Sundays with the dog.

Yes unfortunately the Tiger we all know and love, the one who won the Masters at 21 years old by 12 strokes, the one who cruised to his US Open victory at Pebble Beach by 15 strokes, the only golfer to complete an unofficial grand slam, that Tiger is sadly gone. With the argument I made earlier as well as the talent on the tour now, Tiger will never be able to dominate the game like he did. We all saw what McIlroy did at the Masters  in 2011(what a tragic Sunday that was) and the following US Open at Congressional. This game is no longer Tiger’s. When you’re that good for that long, younger talent always finds a way to become better, faster, stronger. That is seen is sports all over the world. But that’s for a different day.

There is good news though: he will still beat Jack. He will just have to do it using a more human type of golf. He will be perfectly fine, and “perfectly fine” in TW standards is still damn good compared to other golfers. If you were to name some of the best guys on the Tour who comes to mind? Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson, and Tiger to name a few. Lets see how many cuts each has received (in respective order): 76, 58, 9….. Yes these numbers are real. Lefty barely made the cut at the US Open while Watson went from being in the spotlight at the Masters to completely irrelevant at Olympic.

TW also has the most wins on the tour right now at 3. In 2007, 08, and 09 he had 7, 4, and 7 wins (naturally, respectively again). He lead the Tour with the most wins in each of these years, 07 and 09 doing it handily. In those same years, Phil won 3, 2, 4; Watson wasn’t relevant during these years and his numbers couldn’t be found.  And in 2010, ’11, the years Tiger put up the goose egg, the leaders were Jim Furyk with 3 in ’10 and 5 people tied for the lead at 2 in ’11. So as you can see, winning 3+ events is a hard feat in its own right.

For these numbers alone, I firmly believe Tiger will win 4 majors to tie Jack. He is only 36. Jack won his last major at 46 and won 4 majors from ages 36-46. And it’s not like 46 means the end of the road for Tiger. The Senior Tour starts at age 50 but you can keep playing on the regular tour past that. But I don’t want to get too ahead of myself.

As of right now, Tiger is -3 at the British Open, 3 off the lead. I am going to get my hopes up like I always do and will have the zoloft ready. But I will always keep in the back of my head the confidence of knowing he has so many more chances; that he is still the best player in the field; that he is the best golfer ever.

– Joe Leathersich