Listen to people talk about Tiger Woods these days, and it's either one of two things.
First, you have the more optimistic view that says his game is fine and he just needs a little more time.
On the other hand, you have the doom-and-gloom view. In this view, Tiger will never be the same and will be lucky to win another tournament.
That leaves the rest of us to think about what the actual truth is.
In all reality, the truth is somewhere in between those two views.
We can all agree his game is far from perfect. Heck, it may even be far from good.
But we can also agree he shows flashes of his old self. So to say he will never be the same seems like a bit of a stretch.
I have no doubt he will someday win more golf tournaments. He simply has too much skill not to.
This is the club that will determine how Tiger fares this season and for the rest of his career.
When his putter is hot, he can win easily, even if the rest of his game is far from great.
But when his putter is cold, his game sputters. It throws his whole day off.
As of recent, he has looked a little bit better on the greens.
Sure, he has been inconsistent. But look at his game. Everything has been inconsistent.
If Tiger figures out a way to start knocking in putts with the fearsome consistency he did in his younger years, he will be hoisting another trophy real soon.
The putter remains a BIG question.
Go to your nearest drinking establishment. Bring up the name Tiger Woods. I guarantee at least one person will tell you what a self-righteous jerk he is.
They will then tell you that there is a direct correlation between how Tiger acted off the course and his ability to win tournaments.
These are the people that will drive Tiger Woods.
No one likes to hear people say, "You can't."
Remember when Rory Sabbatini said Tiger Woods was more beatable than ever?
Then I am assuming you remember Tiger went out and bested Sabbatini's score by nine in the next round.
So let the doubters talk.
Bring them on, in fact.
They are only going to make Tiger better.
Give Tiger time.
I know, I know. He had months off where he had all the time in the world to work on his swing changes with Sean Foley.
But time on the range does not translate to the course. While it does help, beating balls all day is not the same thing as a professional tournament with a million dollars up for grabs.
As the season progresses, Tiger will become more confident in his swing.
So as Tiger gets more tournament rounds in, he will only get better.
How, you ask, does blowing a final round lead in a tournament that does not matter for anything more than pride show progress?
It shows he can still compete. In his first few showings this year, Tiger has been competitive for a couple of rounds and then faded into the pack.
At the Chevron, Tiger looked more like his old self.
Tiger looked like the best player in the world for the majority of the tournament.
Heck, Tiger even played his way into a playoff, giving him a chance to win.
So who cares if he lost in that playoff to Graeme McDowell, arguably the hottest player of the 2010 season?
It showed he can still compete during any given week.
Tiger Woods loves to play golf. Tiger Woods loves to win golf tournaments.
Tiger explained to the masses once, "I love to play golf, and that's my arena. And you can characterize it and describe it however you want, but I have a love and a passion for getting that ball in the hole and beating those guys."
If you think that drive has gone away, you are dead wrong.
It is not fun for Tiger to enter golf tournaments and not win them.
In case you have not taken notice over the years, Tiger plays to win. He does not enter tournaments if he does not honestly believe he will win.
As long as he is entering tournaments, that drive will always be there.
Tiger entered the final round of the Dubai Desert Classic one shot behind.
He finished in a tie for 20th.
How does this show his game is on the upswing?
It shows that Tiger can put himself in contention in a tournament.
Yes, he needed help from the other players to be in contention.
Yes, he blew any chance he had to break his victory drought.
But he gave himself a chance—and when Tiger gives himself enough chances, he is going to get a victory eventually.
Before the season, it was rumored Tiger was spending at least eight hours a day working on his game.
If that does not tell you a top priority of his is golf, nothing will.
While Tiger does have his kids to take care of at least some of the time, his kids are not with him all the time.
When they are not, Tiger can do what got him to his hallowed place in the game: Eat, sleep, and breathe golf. Eventually that hard work is going to pay off.
With the divorce finalized and the media laying off his morals for a minute or two, Tiger can focus on beating ball after ball to get his game back.
From left to right: Kaymer, Westwood, and Woods
Tiger was the No. 1 player in the world for so long that it felt like he would never relinquish his position.
Currently, Tiger is ranked third in the world behind Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer.
While many golfers would be happy being the third best player in the world, Tiger is not one of them.
Tiger wants to be the best. Tiger needs to be the best.
Tiger will not stop until he is the best.
If reclaiming his rightful spot atop the golfing world is not going to kick his game into shape, there is not much that will.
Just in case you still think that his crash destroyed not only his life and marriage, but also his drive to win, I offer you one more piece of evidence.
The major count.
Jack Nicklaus won 18 major titles over his career. Tiger has won 14 major titles over his career.
Tiger has always had the stated goal of beating Nicklaus' record. That goal has not changed.
To be known as the greatest golfer ever, Tiger needs to win the most majors.
If that goal is not enough for him to turn his game around, nothing will be enough for him.
Tiger has the biggest ego in the game.
He expects to win, and anything less is failure to him.
Tied for fourth in the Masters?
You might as well throw it away because Tiger does not want it.
Sure, Tiger may tell the press that he was fine with his performance. But deep down you know he is replaying his rounds in his head, figuring out what he could have done better to win.
Eventually, Tiger is going to become sick of playing like a mere mortal and start playing like the Tiger of yesteryear.
His ego will not allow anything less.