The One Thing That Can Stop TIGER

As to date, golf fans have seen only greatness from Tiger Woods – one remarkable thing after another. In fact, we have become so used to him pulling off the unthinkable – we never entertain the thought he may actually fail. Simply, he has played an unprecedented ten-year stretch of high caliber golf since winning the 1997 Masters. 55 PGA Tour wins – 12 Majors – countless international victories – it has been incredible. Hands down the best ten-year stretch in the history of golf. Bobby Jones had quite the run in his day, but the strength of today’s fields clearly gives Tiger the nod. So we have seen arguably the greatest player in the history of golf playing better for a longer stretch than anyone before – will it continue?

First things first – I for one am not quite convinced that Tiger has eclipsed Jack Nicklaus as the greatest player ever yet. As much a fan of Tiger that I am – Nicklaus’ run incredible run of Major finishes was downright scary. Check out this link and review Nicklaus finishes in Major events. I think Tiger has to continue to play at a high level for the next 5-10 years to unseat Jack as the all-time greatest. And if he does play at that high level – then yes, he will be considered the best player ever. However, lets not assume it will just happen. There is one thing that could stop him from eclipsing Jack – and it’s not his swing, his wife, his impending family, his charity, his business obligations or the emergence of other players. I believe the one thing that could derail Tiger is his putting. That’s right – his putting. I know, I know – he has made everything since his first U.S. Amateur win. I agree – he has been the BEST putter in the history of the Tour to date. Before this year, he has made every important putt he attempted. I for one cannot remember him missing a putt he needed to make. Yet this year, I am starting to see signs of his putting letting him down slightly. First, he missed the four footer at the Match Play Championship to lose to Nick O’Hern. He also missed a number of shortish putts – with questionable strokes – at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Again, he missed a number of shortish putts at Doral. Now, these missed short putts may mean not mean anything – but I have never seen Tiger miss them before. And lets face it – Tiger has been Tiger because of all the putts he makes. If he had been just an above average putter over the last ten years – his record would look nothing like it does today.

Believe it or not, there has been recent precedent for the best player in the world, who was also the best putter in the world, to lose their stroke. Arnold Palmer was the best player/putter on tour until he lost his stroke. He went from winning multiple majors in his late twenties and early thirties, to being shut out in the Majors after age 34. Coincidentally, it was about that time he lost his putting stroke. Also, Tom Watson was the best player/putter in the world in the late 70’s and early 80’s – winning eight majors before the age of 34. Then, inexplicably he went from being one of the best putters ever, to someone who couldn’t hit the hole from 4 feet. He won only a few times after the age of 34 and stopped being a threat in the Majors. For anyone who watched these guys putt and play in the their prime, it would be unthinkable they could ever miss a putt. However, miss they both did and never again were they consistent factors in Major Tournaments. Of course, not all players lose their putting strokes. Nicklaus is probably the best example of this – who still putted great well into his forties.

So, what pattern will Tiger follow? Will he go the way of Palmer and Watson and start missing short putts? Or, will he continue on the Nicklaus trail and putt well for his entire career? If he does continue to putt like he has – then we are all very fortunate. Fortunate for being alive at a time to watch not only the greatest golfer ever – but the greatest athlete ever.

2 Responses to “The One Thing That Can Stop TIGER”

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  2. Ted Exley says:

    Tiger has already shown signs that his putting is fading, after all, he is 30 now !!!

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