Was The 54-Hole Closeout Streak Overblown?

ernie cohenCorrespondent IAugust 17, 2009

CHASKA, MN - AUGUST 16:  Tiger Woods reacts to his poor tee shot on the 17th hole during the final round of the 91st PGA Championship at Hazeltine National Golf Club on August 16, 2009 in Chaska, Minnesota.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

I don't understand why people are so shocked at Tiger Woods giving up a lead in the last round of the PGA. Even though he'd won 14 straight times when leading after 54, this is not the first time he gave up a lead on the last day.

What people forget is that in 3 of these 14 wins, Woods led going into the final round, only to be forced into a playoff.

In the 2006 Masters, he led by 3 strokes, and by 2 strokes with just 2 holes left to play, only to end up in a playoff with Chris DiMarco.

In the 2008 US Open, he led by 3 strokes with 8 holes left to play. He gave up 4 strokes to Rocco Mediate over the next 7 holes, and needed a 20 foot birdie put on 18 even to make the playoff.

In the 2000 PGA Championship, he entered with a 1 shot lead over Bob May, and gave it up to a 1-stroke deficit by the 14th hold. He needed birdies on the last two holes to even get to a playoff.

The truth is that, even though Woods has been a magnificent player, the 54-hole-closeout streak was, like DiMaggio's hitting streak, largely a matter of luck (though Woods' streak, given his level of play, was much more likely than DiMaggio's streak).