“I have not come around to the idea of being a (ceremonial golfer). If I’m playing, I’m playing to win.”
That’s what Tiger Woods told the media before The Genesis Invitational this February. He barley made the cut in the tournament and finished virtually last of the players who made the weekend.
This past weekend at the Masters he made the cut by the skin of his teeth after a helping hand from mother nature. Woods finished his second round one shot off the cut line at the time. There were two players behind him that could provide some assistance. Only one of them needed to finish one shot worse and Tiger was in.
As Woods walked off the 18th green, a torrential down pour began. What are the odds. And sure enough, none other than Tiger’s good friend Justin Thomas – one of those players who could’ve helped – provided that assistance.
Woods tried playing a few holes on Saturday but the rain was so bad that the tournament was put on hold until Sunday morning. Tiger withdrew before they started up again.
It was a familiar story since Tiger has returned from the car accident. This was his fifth tournament and none of them he was remotely close to contending. He has made the cut in four of the five events. But he withdrew in two of them and in all four he was at the bottom of the leaderboard of people who made the cut.
Looked Rough from the Start
Halfway through his opening round last weekend, you knew Tiger Woods wasn’t going to win. He missed too many putts and wasn’t sharp with his short irons. He looked like a guy who hasn’t played a lot of golf.
He finished fifth worse in strokes gained: approach, which means he wasn’t hitting it close to the pin on the green. He didn’t rank in the top-50 in any major strokes gained category. In a limited field of about 90 players, that’s bad.
He can still hit an occasional amazing shot that reminds you of the good ole days. But those are few and far between a bunch of missed fairways and short-range putts.
Even most of his lag putts he wasn’t getting them close enough to the hole where it was basically a tap-in. It was a tough watch when you take away the name and Nike apparel.
Not to mention the scene with his mobility was similar to each event he’s played in the past year. He looks fine starting out but by day three he looks like a guy who has a bad leg and is in pain. Which obviously effects his game.
Can He Win Again?
We aren’t at the point where I’m ready to say Tiger Woods will never win again. Phil Mickelson just finished T2 at the Masters and he’s 52 years old. He also won a major himself two years ago. I’m not concerned about Tiger’s age. Mickelson is five years older than Woods for what it’s worth.
I’m more concerned with his ability to be fit and in form competitively to compete against the games best. He looked like a guy who hasn’t played much golf lately and you can’t do that at a major.
“If I’m playing in the event, I’m going to try and beat you. I’m there to get a W,” Woods said back in February.
I’m glad he has that approach and doesn’t want to be out there as a “ceremonial golfer.” But we’ve arrived at a time where I think it’s fair to ask Tiger – Do you really think you can win? Because from what I’ve seen over the past 12 months, he isn’t close to winning at all.
For more from the author Jeramy Stover, check him out on Twitter here: @jstover96
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