Will 2015 Be Different For Tiger Woods?
As I write now, Tiger Woods is in the middle of his 2015 debut tournament, the Waste Management Phoenix Open — where he is currently shooting a three over after seven holes with two bogeys, one double bogey and one birdie. Obviously, this is a rough start for Tiger, who has had trouble at his opening tournaments post-2008.
Now, everyone is probably sick of hearing or talking about will Woods finally get another major: is it time for a come back? Well, first it is important to note that after an offseason back surgery and four prior knee surgeries, Tiger’s body will never return to its peak form. At this point, it is just whether Tiger could actually garner his 15th major title: something he has been waiting to do since 2008. Seven years since his last major, it looks like the record for most majors by Jack Nicklaus (17) is getting farther and farther out of Woods’ reach.
Now even with the scandal before the 2010 season and the later injuries over the next two years, Woods did bounce back in 2012 and 2013, only to be injured last year. There is no doubt that even with his injury, he played horridly: he attended his fewest tournaments since 2008 and only had one top 25 finish in seven attempts. He even failed to make the cut twice. Yes, 2014 is a disappointment, but it is a huge step back for a player who looked to be somewhat back in the groove in 2013: winning five tournaments, with his last coming in August 2013 at the Bridgestone Invitational.
But still in his two good years in the 2010s, he never truly attained the glory that has previously been associated with the Tiger brand: finishing second in his accumulated score average in both years. In fact, he has not finished first since 2007. From 1999-2007, he finished first eight of nine times.
So this spewing of facts is basically showing what most fans already now: Woods is well past his prime, unable to compete at the level he used to. But even half of the golfer’s skills could put him in contention for tourney wins: so squeaking out a title this year is not impossible. Yet, one also has to remember that there are a lot of great players out there now: with Rory McIlroy playing at the top of his field and countless others rising through the ranks.
So if he either starts 2015 on a good or bad foot, Woods is still playing catch up while also battling father time: yes, Nicklaus played until he was 65 — giving Tiger 26 more years — but the all time leader in major wins was not ravished with injuries like Woods. This is not to look down at Tiger, who from the late 90s to mid 2000s had arguably the most dominant run in professional sports history: it is just saying, his odds of getting over the major drought is ever-dwindling.
As ESPN’s Rick Reilly pointed out, “In the last 20 years only eight men have won majors at 39 or older. And none of them were coming off a back surgery or four knee surgeries.”