Tiger Woods Had Us All Fooled Once Again

Michael FitzpatrickFeatured ColumnistMarch 11, 2013

DORAL, FL - MARCH 10:  Tiger Woods poses with the Gene Sarazen Cup after his two-stroke victory at the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship at the Trump Doral Golf Resort & Spa on March 10, 2013 in Doral, Florida.  (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)
Warren Little/Getty Images

Fool us once, shame on you. Fool us twice, shame on us. Fool us three times…well, we’re all just fools.

For two years now, Tiger Woods has been telling the media that his swing changes are a “process.”

He has constantly cited his other two swing changes as examples, each of which took about two years to fully implement and didn't occur while Woods was fighting a series of nagging injuries.

Fans and the media simply shrugged this off as a form of denial or wishful thinking from a player whose game was seemingly entering its ultimate decline.  

If you actually believed what you read and heard on television, you’d think it was a given that Woods would never be the player he once was and that he would never again dominate the game of golf.

Heck, some so-called “experts” were even saying that Woods would never win another PGA Tour event.

But over the past year and, particularly, the past few months, a funny thing has occurred: Woods' swing changes finally seem to have taken hold, just as he predicted all along.

Woods has already won two of his first four PGA Tour events in 2013. He's also won five out of his last 22 events worldwide.

Don’t look now, but Woods is trending very close to a level of domination not seen since, well, Woods' last dominate run between 2005 and 2009.   

In addition, Woods has seven top-10 finishes over the past 12 months.

Of course, Woods is still searching for his first major victory since the 2008 U.S. Open, but we've begun to see very Woods-like numbers, particularly over his last 10 events.

“I feel like my game's becoming more efficient, and it's more consistent day in and day out, and I'm very pleased with the progress I've made with Sean,” Woods said after his two-stroke victory at the WGC-Cadillac Championship on Sunday.

The reason we have been fooled not once, not twice, but three times by Woods’ apparently imminent demise is largely because we are living in an era of instant gratification.

If we feel like a pizza, we click a button on a smartphone app, and the pizza is at our door within 30 minutes.

If we feel like watching a movie, we simply click a button on our remote control, and the movie starts instantaneously—no more trekking down to the local Blockbuster while hoping that the new release we are after happens to be in stock.

Heck, if you forgot to purchase a thanksgiving turkey, you can go online and order a turkey from your local grocery store, and the bird will be at your door in an hour.

This era of instant gratification has all but retired a virtue known as patience. Each and every one of us now openly questions anything that causes us to wait more than an hour, let alone a week or two.

A wait of two or more years? Forget about it. That might as well be an eternity. We don’t even have the attention span to read blog posts anymore. How else can you explain Jack Dorsey becoming a billionaire through creating a micro-blogging site known as Twitter?  

A professional golfer’s career can span 30 years, and a golfer’s prime can span up to 20 years. Throughout these 20-30 years, there are inevitably going to be hot and cold stretches, each of which can last anywhere from a few months to several years.  

Bobby Jones had seven lean years followed by eight incredibly dominant years before he retired from the game at the age of 28.

Ben Hogan went 12 years before capturing his first major, had a dominant seven-to-eight-year stretch and then began to fade away.

Even Jack Nicklaus, who is considered to be a model of consistency and career longevity in the game of golf, had several hot and cold spells throughout his career.

Nicklaus won seven majors between 1962 and 1967. He then went 11 majors without a victory before winning the 1970 Open Championship. This sparked another hot stretch that lasted from late 1970 through 1975 before Nicklaus went another 10 majors without a victory. Nicklaus then won the 1978 Open Championship, which sparked another hot streak between 1978 and 1980. Five years would then pass before Nicklaus won his final major at the 1986 Masters, although many would say that Nicklaus’ prime years actually came to an end during early 1980s.

Woods’ career has not been all that different to Nicklaus’ in that Woods’ career has also contained several hot and cold stretches, although Woods has so far won tournaments and majors at a more rapid pace than Nicklaus when comparing the first 16 years of their careers.  

Woods now appears to be, at the very least, approaching the same dominant form that landed him atop the world golf rankings for nearly 12 years, including a mind-boggling stretch of 281 consecutive weeks ranked as the No. 1 player in the world.

Woods has gone through a third swing change and a third cold spell and, once again, seems to have come out the other side with his game fully intact.

Fool us once, shame on you. Fool us twice, shame on us. Fool us three times…well, perhaps we’ve just become creatures of our instant-gratification society, and two years somehow felt like a lifetime.

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