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Open Championship 2013: Flop on Final Day Highlights Tiger Woods' Mental Strain

GULLANE, SCOTLAND - JULY 21:  Tiger Woods of the United States looks on during the final round of the 142nd Open Championship at Muirfield on July 21, 2013 in Gullane, Scotland.  (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
Stuart Franklin/Getty Images
Ryan RudnanskySenior Writer IJuly 24, 2013

There's a reason Tiger Woods has racked up 15 top-10 finishes and seven wins on the PGA Tour since the start of the 2012 campaign but not captured a major: The pressure is getting to him.

A few years ago, that statement would have been ludicrous. His victory at the 2008 U.S. Open via a playoff with Rocco Mediate signified his 14th career major championship.

But Woods hasn't captured a major since, and it's not just because he's dealt with various injuries throughout the years.

At the 2013 British Open, Tiger was tied for second through three rounds at one under par. He then went three over par on the final day to settle for sixth place. That included six bogeys to three birdies.

In the last seven majors since the start of the 2012 season, Woods has gone a combined 13 over par in the final round. The Tiger we once knew, who used to instill fear in his opponents while surging at the end, has disappeared.

Granted, you could still call Woods a great player, given his seven victories on tour in the past year-and-a-half. But the player who was a threat nearly every time he entered the final round at a major is no longer with us.

At this point, it has to be primarily because of Woods' mental game. One of the best players in the world doesn't go a combined 13 over par in his last seven majors without it at least partially being mental.

Of course, it makes a whole lot of sense. Woods has had to deal with a lot in recent years, from his divorce with Elin Nordegren following reports of extramarital affairs to the injuries he sustained on the golf course. During this time, a major championship hasn't come easy, which is how it should be but wasn't when Tiger was winning all of those majors.

For the first time, Woods doesn't seem invincible. Instead, he watched Phil Mickelson claim the claret jug over the weekend by posting a 66 in the final round. Tiger knows he can win another major, but he no longer heads into majors with the certainty of victory. That has shown on more than a few occasions since the 2008 U.S. Open.

One thing's for sure: If Tiger does indeed win another major, it may be the most rewarding of his career because of all he has been through. He can no longer breeze through top competition, and he knows it.

 

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