Tiger Woods at the Masters: 7 Reasons He Will Never Win Another Major
Tiger Woods was the most dominating golf player of this era. Notice I said, "was."
Where there once stood a solid rock of golf granite, a mythic god firing at hole locations and curling putts into the hole with the calm, cool precision of a surgeon, there is now merely a man.
A man with faults and flaws, just like the rest of us.
Where there was once the fiery titan, expressing emotions on the course and swearing like a sailor on a three-day shore leave bender, there is now a guy who gets fined for spitting, and then admits that he was right to be fined.
Where once there was the impenetrable facade, a shadowy veil that hid all but he wanted us to see, there is now the bright, harsh light of exposure and in that light is the soft belly, unprotected by the armor of mystery he once wore.
Tiger will win again. Of that I have no doubt.
But he will not win another major golf championship again, and here's why.
Their names are Sam Alexis and Charlie Axel and they are going to be two reasons Tiger will not win another major.
Jack Nicklaus had the benefit of Barbara Nicklaus, maybe the best golf wife ever. Barbara made sure that Jack never had to worry about what was going on with the kids while Jack was winning majors.
Arnold Palmer had Winnie, who provided the same for her husband.
Both the Golden Bear and the King had stable home lives they could go to so they could be a father when they were home and golf player on the road, and still practice wherever they were.
Tiger is divorced and will have to find time to be part-time dad. Because being a dad will require more time and effort from him, it is going to cut into his time for practicing and playing.
When they are with him, he will have to devote 100% percent of his time to them, and when they are not with him, he will be thinking about them.
I'm not saying Jack and Arnie never thought about their kids, but we all know that being in a stable marriage with children is quite different from being divorced with children.
Even a great golf mind like Tiger will find it difficult to compartmentalize all of this as he explores his brave new world as a single dad.
Other Players Are Catching Up
You are starting to become familiar with the guys who will divvy up Tiger's formidable share of the major pie.
They are guys named Rory McIrloy and Charl Schwatzel; Louis Oosthuizen and Y.E. Yang; Jason Day and Rickie Fowler.
Tell me you have not heard of a single one of those guys. Three of them are major champions and the other three will be soon.
The young players coming out now have no fear and are already tournament tested when they get to the Tour.
They have been baptized in the fire of collegiate golf and on the mini-tours.
They are ready to win and they are ready to win now.
And there is no way they are going to take any crap from some old guy who used to play a little "back in the day."
Which leads me to...
Tiger is now 35 years old and while there are still plenty of good golf years ahead of him, it is very, very hard to win majors as you approach 40 years old.
Go back through major championship history and you will find precious few players in their 40s who won. Heck, there aren't all that many winning majors in their late 30s.
The most notable recent exceptions to that are Angel Cabrera, Padraig Harrington and Phil Mickelson.
A player's early to mid-30s are his best playing days and Tiger is now on the downward side of that.
If he can figure out a way to win one, he will be part of the exception, not the rule.
With apologies to the impressive run he made during the front nine of the final round of the Masters, Tiger's swing is a mess.
He seems to have no clear idea of where the ball is going and was really off in his distance control at Augusta.
If you watched the Masters you saw a man who often times seemed to have the wrong club in his hand for the shot. On Saturday, you could even hear him rhetorically asking how far shots were going.
During regular Tour stops, you can get away with less than stellar iron play, but not in the majors.
The majors require that you play the game at the highest level from tee to hole for four days.
Right now, as he is working on swing changes, Tiger's swing is too unreliable to win on the biggest stages.
He Only Wins When He Is Leading
Tiger Woods has won 14 professional major golf championships. He has either led outright or taken a share of the 54-hole lead into the final round 14 times.
That means that he has never, not one time, won a major by coming from behind.
What that means is if Tiger is not in the lead after three rounds, it is a lock that he will not win.
In essence, he has one fewer round than the rest of the field to win majors.
He made a bold run and had a share of the lead on Sunday at Augusta, but could not seem to get under par on the back nine, which is the easier of the two nines.
Eventual champion Charl Schwartzel played the last four holes in four under to come from behind and win.
Even the "Leading After 54-Holes" Thing Isn't Automatic Any More
In August, 2009, Tiger Woods took the 54-hole lead into the final round of the PGA Championship at Hazeltine.
In fact, he had a two-stroke lead over three-time major champion Padraig Harrington and some guy named Yang Yong-eun.
If Tiger had shot a final round of even par, he would have been in a playoff.
Instead, he played the final round in 75 strokes, five worse than eventual champion Y.E. Yang.
It was the first time as a professional that Tiger gave up a 54-hole lead to lose a major.
It wasn't like Yang shot a 63, a la Johnny Miller at Oakmont. He played an good round of 70 which was sprinkled with excellent shots. Woods, on the other hand, couldn't buy a putt.
More recently, Woods managed to climb into the lead on Sunday at this year's Masters.
Going around the back nine in even par, however, just shows that the killer instinct he once had may be gone for good.
Numbers Don't Lie
The numbers bear out the issues in Tiger's game.
He is not in the top 20 of any major statistical category on Tour.
His best showing in any category is a 28th in scoring. That means that 27 other guys are scoring their ball better than Tiger right now, and that is the best stat Tiger has.
He is barely hitting 50 percent of the fairways in regulation and isn't getting it out there like he used to. He is hitting the ball a shade under 290 yards off the tee on average. I'm a 40-year-old 10-handicap and I average 290 off the tee.
He is 100th on Tour in putts per round. This was a guy who seemingly made every important putt he ever looked at, and on Sunday at the Masters he couldn't find a way to knock down a five-footer for eagle on 15.
Gone are the days when Tiger would just bomb it longer than anyone and then make an incredible putt to make birdie.
And those aren't the kinds of things that just come back with a swing change.