He hasn’t won in 17 months. He hasn’t won on U.S. soil in almost two years. He’s gone through a scandal that ranks among the most lurid in recent sports history. He went through a divorce. He is changing his swing, not to mention his life.
This is the public life of Eldrick Woods, the Tiger who made golf on TV a must-see event. His mere presence on a course caused other pros to three-putt and misfire. He had an uncanny knack of making the clutch putt or hitting the miraculous recovery at the right time, seemingly every time, and that made him appear, well, if not inhuman, most certainly invincible.
Now he’s a solid but hardly domineering pro who can make runs in golf tournaments but can’t close them. He no longer strikes fear in the hearts of others; rather than wait for others to make mistakes, now they wait for him. And with a new swing and a rather shaky countenance on the greens, the wayward drive or devastating three-putt never seems too far away.
He's middling in driving distance, accuracy, greens in regulation and putting. He can glue it together for one round, but the adhesive expires around dusk. Back-to-back hot rounds are a rarity now.
About a year ago at this time, Woods sat down with ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi and answered questions about what he was going through—treatment, marriage issues, facing other family members about his actions, and of course the changes to his impermeable public image. [http://sports.espn.go.com/golf/news/story?id=5015614]
The repercussions have been at times unfair, and for him facing the world afterward can’t be easy. But it’s also something that he brought onto himself. Since his scandal erupted, Woods has been a ghost of the most dominant golfer of the modern era. But we still watch.
No matter how good Jack Nicklaus was, he wasn’t Tiger Woods in his prime. Woods is stuck on 14 major championships, four behind Nicklaus. Now he’s swinging into prime golf season. The Players Championship, the Wells Fargo at Quail Hollow and then the Memorial are his regular stops prior to another run at the major, the U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club.
With Woods’ words from the Rinaldi interview, we can get some perspective on the multifaceted onslaught that has pierced the invincibility of Tiger Woods.