After the fog lifted from Torrey Pines and Tiger Woods won for his 8th time there, has the fog finally lifted from Tiger Woods recent struggles? Which Tiger Woods are we going to see in 2013? Let’s see if we can shed some light on these valid questions. Tiger Woods won his 75th PGA Tournament(2nd All-Time) on Monday and showed flashes of his former self in the process. While he did shoot a pedestrian even par(72) in his final round, he comfortably won The Farmers Insurance Open by 4 strokes. Come Tuesday morning there was definitely talk of how well Tiger played, and what we should expect to see out of him this season. However, it didn’t seem like we were overloaded with the Tiger Talk we’ve grown accustomed to. Now maybe it’s because we’re all gearing up for the Super Bowl or more likely it’s because 90% of “golf fans” don’t watch unless 1 of the 4 majors are on TV. In that regard, golf is a sport like tennis. It doesn’t really carry casual fans. It’s not like Football where every game matters and you have instant action on every play. It was also the first real tournament of a nearly 10 month season. With that being said, Tiger Woods is usually the only reason people watch golf. You can hate Tiger Woods the man, (like most of us do) but as a golfer we all root for him, let’s be honest. I know I root for him when he’s on the golf course. We want to watch history being made right in front of our eyes, and that’s OK. Stop fighting yourself and just appreciate what Tiger Woods can still accomplish on a golf course. By his own standards, yes Tiger had a down year in 2012, but let’s put this “down year” in perspective. The guy still won 3 out of the 19 tournaments he played in. By the way, how nice would it be to only have to work 19 weeks out of the year? Poor Bastard. Back to the point, there are amazing golfers out there that would give their left arm to win 3 professional golf tournaments in their LIFETIME. That’s how difficult it is to win a golf tournament on the professional tour. So yes compared to the Tiger of 2000 where he won 9 out of 20 tournaments and 3 majors, and was on his way to the “Tiger Slam”, Tiger had a down year in 2012. But compared to the rest of us, he was still spectacular. So what can we expect from Tiger this year? A tough question that even I’m not completely sure of a confident answer yet. I know that I want him to win a handful of tournaments and a major, and I definitely know that the networks and golf itself need him to play well. People aren’t plopping themselves in front of the tube on a beautiful Sunday in June to watch Bubba Watson and Keegan Bradley battle it out. Let me take time out your regularly scheduled program to give a quick shout-out to The Wheatley Hills Golf Club in East Williston, where I was raised. This is one of the courses Keegan Bradley called home while attending St. Johns University since they didn’t have their own course on campus. Now back to El Tigre(that’s spanish for The Tiger). So, from a ratings standpoint and for the interest level of golf fans everywhere, we are pulling for you Tiger. Tiger’s golf game though, like everybody’s is not perfect. Here is a snapshot of Tigers troubles in 2012. He stands to improve on his driving accuracy(where he ranked 55th) and his approach shots from between 75 and 150 yards. I bet you’ll be surprised to learn that in 2012 he ranked a dismal 117th in Greens In Regulation between those distances. That statistic is slightly deceiving considering in total Greens In Regulation, he ranked 29th. Now Tiger always lived with his accuracy issues off the tee(in 2000 he ranked 54th and 2006 he ranked 139th). Those are arguably the two best seasons of his career. However, when he’s piling up wins and expanding the size of his trophy case, he’s got the putter working and mentally he’s got his head in the game. Golf more than any other sport is a mental challenge. It is the only sport where you are competing against yourself, so you become your biggest obstacle. You know what the biggest difference is between the guy who heads into Sunday with the lead and crumbles(cough, Lee Westwood, cough), and Tiger Woods? Mental toughness! When things start to go awry on the course, you need to clear your head and move on to the next shot. I’ve seen a lot of guys unravel right before my eyes because they let one errant shot turn into two and then it’s like rolling a snowball down a mountain. I mean no disrespect to Lee Westwood by the way. He is the #8 ranked golfer in the world, his career earnings are approximately 36 Million Dollars(insert Dr. Evil Voice here), you’ve probably heard of him, but he only has 2 PGA victories, and 0 majors. Just as a reminder Tiger Woods has 75 tour victories and 14 majors. What Tiger has also done better than any other golfer in the history of the sport, is intimidate his opponents. Back in the day, other golfers used to fear him! They would find themselves watching him win with the rest of us rather than believe they actually had a chance to defeat him. If Tiger wants to get back to his old self, he’ll need to start doing these things once again. I think that Tiger should focus mostly on the mental aspects of his game and his sheer intimidation over his peers. This will be a recipe for success. As we’ve seen in recent past in major tournaments, it’s not the guy making up ground that wins, it’s the guy who remains steady and keeps his head above water. With this mentality, I believe that Tiger can cause his opponents to once again falter on Sundays in 2013 just the way he did in the beginning of his career. Let me attach some numbers to my predictions. I believe that if healthy for the entire year, Tiger Woods will win 4 tournaments and 1 major. Of course he has the ability to win 3 majors and 9 tournaments again, I mean he still is Tiger Woods. But, I don’t see a year worse than last year. Even at his worst I still think he’s a top 10 golfer in the world.
Published by Dave Ettinger
I think, I say it. You may not like it, but I'll always be honest. I'm a walking oxymoron; an objective fan. Yankees, Knicks, Jets, and Islanders. You can find me on the DaveTalksSports Podcast every morning during my commute home from CBS Sports Radio Headquarters. Subscribe to my YouTube Channel; DaveTalksSports. You can also like my Facebook Page at www.Facebook.com/DaveTalksSports or follow me on Twitter @DaveEttinger2. View all posts by Dave Ettinger