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  • Alistair Tait

Will We See Tiger’s Like Again?

Updated: May 30, 2022

There’s something sad about watching a golfer past his prime trying to play as if he is still in his halcyon days. I’m sure I wasn’t the only golf fan who felt that watching Tiger Woods limp around Southern Hills in the PGA Championship.

It was like watching a former boxing champion come out of retirement to have one last tilt at the title, only to find his reflexes can’t protect him from the blows of a younger opponent.

A flashback of the 1994 PGA Championship came to mind. I was standing beside the 18th fairway at Southern Hills in round two to watch Arnold Palmer play the last hole. Palmer hit a driver onto the fairway, then a fairway wood onto the green. It was a far cry from the way Vijay Singh played the hole. The Fijian hit 3-wood/wedge. There was a time when Palmer would have done likewise, but at 64 he didn’t have the speed or strength to match his younger opponents.

Both missed the cut, but for Palmer it would be his last appearance in the only major he never won. And while the crowds at Tulsa that day cheered an icon of the game, there was still something sad about watching Palmer long past his best.

Is Tiger Woods long past his best?

As I’ve written previously, it’s always been foolish to write off Tiger Woods, but the last two majors seem to suggest the 15-time major winner’s days are numbered.

That Woods turned up for the second round in Tulsa was a testament to his fortitude. He would have been forgiven for getting on his private jet and heading back to Florida after his opening 74. He looked he might not make it back to the clubhouse let alone tee it up in the second round. His 69 to make the cut was one of the rounds of the day, giving Tiger fans hopes of a miraculous final 36 holes.

Perhaps the miracle of Saturday’s 79 blows was that he managed to break 80. Again, it was painful to watch someone who once overpowered golf courses be beaten into submission to the point where he withdrew from the tournament.

It wasn’t just a painful watch for golf fans, but players too. Ask Shaun Norris, who played with Woods in round three.

“You feel so sorry for him,” Norris said. “But then again, you also see the type of person that he is, that he grinds through everything and pushes himself, even all the pain and that. It’s not easy to see a guy like him have to go through that and struggle like that.”

Spot on. As Rory McIlroy said after playing the opening round with him:

“If that would have been me, I would have been considering pulling out and just going home. … It was just a monumental effort.”

It was that, but will Tiger continue to make monumental efforts just to make cuts in major championships, just to make up the numbers? Surely not?

Woods left Southern Hills with more questions than answers, questions only he knows the answers to. Will he play in the US Open? Will he tee it up in the 150th Open Championship at St Andrews? Woods has won twice (2000 and 2005) over the Old Course. No golfer has won the game’s greatest tournament three times at the Home of Golf. He is one of five to have double wins on the Old Course along with Bob Martin, JH Taylor, James Braid and Jack Nicklaus. There was a time when many of us thought Tiger would have no problem collecting a third title over the world’s most iconic course.

As I said, it’s foolish to write off Tiger Woods completely after what he’s done in the game, but for Woods to win another major never mind tie Nicklaus’s record of 18 seems far-fetched at this point. Even for him to win regular tournaments again seems beyond the pale.

Only one person really knows the answers to the above questions: the man himself.

There’s perhaps a bigger question as we approach the end of the Tiger era: will we see Tiger’s like again?

The game is currently blessed with a plethora of great players, but none to match Tiger at the top of his game. Justin Thomas has just won his second major but how many more will he win? McIlroy’s eight-year wait for another major goes on. Jordan Spieth, Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson are also waiting for their next major trophies

What of Bryson DeChambeau? How many majors will Jon Rahm win? Scottie Scheffler? Collin Morikawa? What about Viktor Hovland? Patrick Cantlay? Cam Smith? Xander Schauffele? Good players all but not even in the same league as Tiger Woods in his prime.

Will we see Tiger’s like again?

#JustSaying: “I'm not going to be playing a lot of tournaments going forward. They're going to be the biggest tournaments. I want to be able to play the major championships. I've always loved playing them.” Tiger Woods


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