Honda Classic 2012: Has Tiger Woods Been Declawed?

James Maahs@Jmaz90Contributor IIIMarch 1, 2012

SAN DIEGO - JUNE 13:  Tiger Woods reacts to his shot with a fist pump during the second round of the 108th U.S. Open at the Torrey Pines Golf Course (South Course) on June 13, 2008 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
Donald Miralle/Getty Images

Intimidation used to be Tiger Woods' strong suit. 

But after infidelity, the firing of his swing coach and caddy, and most recently a new tell all book, Tiger Woods has become nothing more than a golfer intimidated be the media and their questions.

Endless questions about his life and how that is affecting his golf game will follow him around for the rest of his career. 

As we approach the Honda Classic many questions abound about whether or not Tiger will ever be able to reclaim the magic that made him great. 

The simple answer is no, he will never be the Tiger of old that we all grew to love and hate.

But is that really a bad thing?

Tiger Woods is 36 years old, old enough to consider retirement in any other sport besides the game of golf.

He has won 14 major championships and 71 PGA tournaments, and has 98 professional wins overall. 

He may never reclaim the glory days when all golfers feared the wrath of Tiger on the course.

He may never hit it as far as he once did in his youth.

But the Tiger that we see today—the "new" Tiger Woods—will come back and win his fair share of golf tournaments.

And yes, he will pass Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 major championships.

Quest For 18 Majors

Jack Nicklaus said it himself: Tiger will break his record.

"I still think he probably will," Nicklaus said at a Honda Classic press conference.

Nicklaus added that Tiger will have to learn how to play within his game.

"He'll have to figure out he is a different person today than he was five years ago and he's got to learn to play," Nicklaus said. "I mean, I was a different person when I was 25 years old than I was when I was 35 years old, and I had to learn how to play because I didn't have the strength when I was 35 that I did when I was 25."

To have the Golden Bear say with confidence that Tiger will break his record means a lot. The greatest golfer of his generation praising Tiger for his ability to win.

It used to be taken for granted that Tiger would intimidate the field as he climbed the leader board.

However, with the emergence of new stars like Rory McIlroy and Ricky Fowler, all that is lost.

It will be up to Tiger himself to hone his game to the point where intimation becomes a non factor, if that is possible. No longer can he play and be feared but instead he will have to play and think as if he were the underdog.

With the Masters looming around the corner, Tiger will be looking to pick up a win before he hits Augusta National Golf Club.

Expect a win either this week or next. 

The Tiger of old is gone—the Tiger of new is just taking a step.