The main focus at the 2010 PGA Championship is the play of Tiger Woods. Tiger had a chance to come into the year's final major without this an enormous microscope hanging over him, but that was before he laid a complete egg at Firestone last weekend.
So far, Tiger is keeping the critics at bay having shot one-under through 12 holes (as of this writing). Now, Tiger shooting one-under shouldn't be a significant standard bearer for a golfer who once tamed any course in the world. Yet, Tiger's start is at least a step in the right direction.
Here are five reasons why Tiger's weekend at Whistling Straits may just be what he needs.
How could expectations be high after the worst performance of Tiger's career last weekend at Firestone? Analysts simply wanted to see Tiger play at least like his former average self, let alone go out there and leave the field in his wake.
Meanwhile, a number of analysts simply told him to shut it down for the rest of 2010. How can expectations get any lower than that?
Very few gave Tiger a serious chance at being the favorite heading into Whistling Straits, which may be the right recipe for him to get things turned around—at least for one weekend. Maybe he won't win, but a strong performance and possible contention on Sunday is more than most expected on this passed Monday.
The PGA Championship, being the last major of the year, gives Tiger the ability to play without lingering, look-ahead questions, like the ones he faced at The Masters, the U.S. Open, and the British Open.
Each one of those majors was used as a measuring stick for how he would perform at the next. There is no next one this time around. Tiger can simply leave everything on the course at Whistling Straits and start worrying about the next major in March 2011.
Whistling Straits is nearly 7,500 yards of room for bombers like Tiger to get a significant leg up on the competition. Few in the field will be able to keep up with his length, either on the tee or from the fairway. That is something he must use to his advantage, though be wary not to get too aggressive.
There are names analysts have tossed around as to who they think will win the 2010 PGA Championship, but no one in the field stands above anyone else. Sure Phil Mickelson is a safe fallback pick, but this field is fairly wide open, without any one golfer asserting his position as the favorite.
That could make things easier for Tiger to slide up the leaderboard in the second and third rounds and finish off the field on Sunday.
It is an optimistic vantage point, but as long as Tiger is at least right on the fringe of the leaders looking in, entering Sunday, he will have a chance to recapture the field's attention unlike any other time this year.
...than nothing will. We have to believe that the Tiger Woods we saw at Firestone last weekend was Tiger at his absolute rock bottom on the course.
If last week at Firestone was the fire (excuse the pun), then this week at Whistling Straits can be the extinguisher. Tiger does not even need to win the PGA Championship to fix his ills. He simply needs to go out and hit the drives and the that shots he knows he is capable of making.
No more shaking iron shots from within in 150 yards. No more missing half his puts from within 10 feet. No more letting go of the club as he watches his shot fall waywardly to the sides of the fairway and the green.
Whistling Straits gives him yet another chance to play the quality of golf of which he is still capable. That alone could be a cure.