The Ridiculous Media Coverage of Tiger Woods at the Open

Mike LynchContributor IIIOctober 8, 2011

SAN MARTIN, CA - OCTOBER 07:  Tiger Woods makes a tee shot on the 12th hole during the second round of the Open at the CordeValle Golf Club on October 7, 2011 in San Martin, California.  (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)
Robert Laberge/Getty Images

Tiger Woods shot a second round 68 to easily make the cut at the Open in San Martin, California.  He bounced back from a first round 73 to sit at one-under-par after 36 holes.  He is seven strokes off the leader, Paul Casey.

I do not mean to single out writer Geoff Schackelford of Golf Digest, however, his coverage of Tiger Woods exemplifies the ridiculous rush to determine his future based on this event.  The broadcast coverage on the Golf Channel was unable to go any period of time without looking at Woods in the big picture.   If I didn't know his scores already, I would have thought Woods shot 80 on Thursday and 59 on Friday.

The reality is that Woods had a five-stroke swing, not uncommon at all on the Tour.  Unless he comes back to blow everyone away or completely implodes in the next two days, I really am not going to judge his future based on this event.  Tiger Woods needs to play a consistent schedule before that can really be done.

On Wednesday, Shackelford wrote an article entitled "Small event a big measuring stick for Woods' game."  In it he states, "Thursday's opening round should got a long way toward telling us if Tiger's game is back."  He also referred to the non-competitive 62 posted by Tiger Woods as a "breakthrough."

It is silly to judge any golfer on the premise of a single round.  Rory McIlroy shot an 80 and choked at The Masters this year.  He followed that performance by setting the US Open scoring record.  Additionally, I do not care if Tiger shoots 52 in a casual round.  That is not how we judge PGA Tour golfers.

Today he had an almost equally sensational piece entitled, "Tiger's 68 hints at better days."  Shackelford writes: "The dreaded 'reps' he referred to really may just be the trick now that his misses are getting less ugly and his short game has steadied. Maybe not the stuff of 2000, but oh so much better than the Tiger of the last two years."

In the last two years, Tiger Woods has two top five Masters finishes.  He is tied for 40th right now in a Fall Series event.  I really am at a loss trying to explain how Shackelford concluded this was better than what we have seen in the last two years.  Woods had a solid round, but it in no way shows that he has cured his woes.  Playing two rounds does not qualify as getting in "reps."

Following Thursday's round, Shackelford placed nearly all the blame for Tiger's poor round on the putter.  He stated: "Don't be lulled into thinking the nine-green-in-regulation round meant shaky ball striking."  

He is correct in stating that the putter was the main cause for the 73.  For Tiger Woods, hitting nine greens is a shaky effort no matter what the conditions were.  That number does not put you in a position to post a solid score.  Not surprisingly, he hit 14 greens on Friday's round of 68.

It is not just Shackelford who jumps to conclusions.  Everytime Woods has had a solid round or even a stretch of holes over the last two years, people jump to conclusions about his play.  

At the 2010 Barclays, Woods was in contention going into Saturday.  Kelly Tilghman of the Golf Channel thought he was back because of his accuracy off the tee, seemingly ignoring that he was using a 5-wood where most people would be hitting driver.  Woods hit his opening tee shot on Saturday with a 3-wood.  It went out of bounds left, literally off the property of Ridgewood CC.  Woods made a triple bogey and wasn't heard from again that week.

Speculation about Woods is going to happen given his status in the game.  However, this constant round-by-round evaluation of his future is just silly.  Woods could shoot a 65 or a 75 tomorrow and it shouldn't be surprising either way.

It is irrational to conclude where Tiger's game is after a single round.  This is constantly occurring, however, and in my opinion, it is leading to irrational coverage of Woods in general.  There is no other way to explain rounds that weren't noteworthy in a good or bad way being given such importance.