Guys used to tease me that if they did not get their drives to the ladies’ tee, they would have to play “Texas Rules,” which they said meant playing the rest of the round with their you know what out.
Luckily the PGA Tour has rules against that or Tiger Woods would have had a situation in the second round when his tee shot on the second hole hit the rough short of the ladies’ tees. The shot went 122 yards. Later that same round, on the 14th, his drive went 188. He bogeyed the 122-yard shot and made par on the 188-yard one.
Now even I can out-drive Tiger Woods.
Butch Harmon, one of Woods' former instructors, said on the WGC Doral Cadillac telecast, “The drives at the second and 14th were a shock. This is Tiger Woods, not a Nationwide Tour player trying to get his card.”
Of equal concern—and honestly, I believe it was Saturday, but just did not write it down at the time—was the tee shot he hit, then bent over and grabbed his left knee. It buckled and he limped a little. Then the camera went away.
That could be the real issue. Maybe the knee is still not quite where he can manage a swing. Maybe it won’t ever be. Maybe it was just a momentary thing and it means nothing. We don’t know.
Sunday, Woods pulled a 66 out of the air. So it’s hard to tell in his Jekyll-and-Hyde golf game, which Woods will show up. It’s almost like he’s starting to play like Phil Mickelson!
Woods is not unaware of the problem.
“Well, of course it bothers me. I want to win golf tournaments,” he said.
But he still believes he is making progress.
“It's just one of those things where I felt that as the week progressed this week, I felt like I hit a lot of good shots but then I would get sidetracked there for a little bit, and didn't really know what the fix was a couple of times,” he admitted.
On Sunday, he was able to figure things out.
“I hit a lot of good golf shots and when I did miss-hit one, I knew what the fix was right away—boom—and I got right back on my run of hitting good shots again. That feels good,” he said.
Woods said his trajectory is getting better and that his shot shape is improving. His shot disbursement is tighter.
“The driver is still not quite there,” he added. “I'm not quite shaping the golf ball like I want to yet. But I'm hitting it flush again, which is good, and so that's just a matter of time before that comes around."
Even Jack Nicklaus, who is still the greatest player when measured by his majors, had lean years and spotty stretches during his career. But his did not come for the same reasons.
Nicklaus admits that after a certain point, he was most interested in major championships. However, he needed to win other tournaments at that time because there was not as much money on the PGA Tour as there is now.
However, in pursuit of the Grand Slam, he found himself getting discouraged if he did not win The Masters each year because it meant that for that season, the Slam was not possible.
Nicklaus also said in the late 1990s that, with Woods’ presence on the PGA Tour, for the first time in the history of the sport, golfers could make a living just playing golf and not worrying about side deals, endorsements and Monday and Tuesday pro-ams and outings and so forth.
Woods does not need to play more golf to have all the money he will ever need. He is after victories and major championships.
To ask when Woods will win again may not be the question. It might be better to ask when he’s going to string together four rounds under 70. Monday and Tuesday, he’s in the Tavistock Cup at Isleworth, which basically counts for bragging rights at one of four clubs.
When Woods is able to shoot four rounds under 70 in one tournament, he has a chance at victory. Not until. Will it come the first half of 2011? Will it come in 2011 at all?
At this point it’s anyone’s guess. Woods thinks he will be ready for Augusta, but any errors will be magnified there, so it may be the harshest test of all. At least until the U.S. Open.