The golfing world proclaimed that Tiger Woods had once again regained his laser-like focus after winning his first official PGA Tour event in more than 28 months. His convincing victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational immediately established him as the overwhelming favorite to win the Masters.
Unfortunately, Tiger will never play like his former self. In the ever-changing state of the tour, it’s tough to stay on top for too long. Woods isn’t able to pull away from the competition like he did in the past. Yes, he's still good, but he isn’t the best golfer in the sport anymore.
Gradually, his momentum has been building towards winning a major at some point this year, as Woods has been posting impressive scores over last few months. He has become more comfortable with his new golf swing that should have given him added confidence to play well on golf’s biggest stage.
The Tiger Express was gaining speed with a decent first round at Augusta, but then his momentum came to a screeching halt on Friday. Woods still has the tendency to fall into bad habits, and he seems unable to find solutions on the course. His second-round play was reminiscent of last year’s PGA Championship, where Woods missed the cut at a major for only the third time in his career.
At times, he became very frustrated with his shot attempts. A tee shot would veer off to his right, and then suddenly a chip shot became an adventure. Easy birdies turned into bogeys in a matter of mere moments. Tiger is still lacking consistency to his game.
It’s amazing to watch the resurgence of the PGA Tour, as you have plenty of young guns (Rory McIlroy, Zach Johnson, Bubba Watson) that should battle the mainstays for golf supremacy all summer long. It would be a major story if one of them could defeat one of golf’s all-time greats on Championship Sunday.
Some have remarked that the young players don’t have enough experience to be nervous at a major event. However, they all have taken advantage of the void left on the tour by Tiger’s absence.
The fans still expect Tiger to dominate a major even if his game isn’t totally together. At times, he has shown glimpses of his intimidating style against the competition, but we need to see him play with that swagger once again before we call him all the way back.