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Tiger Woods: Is Golf Legend Sport's Newest Choke Artist?

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJune 18, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JUNE 17:  Tiger Woods of the United States walks to the eighth tee during the final round of the 112th U.S. Open at The Olympic Club on June 17, 2012 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

Is it ever fair to call a man with 14 major championships under his belt a choke artist?

If your answer to that question is no—and believe me, I understand your reservations—then this article will probably annoy you. But if the answer is yes, then it stands to reason that Tiger Woods is now one of the biggest choke artists in sports.

Did you ever think you would see those words written?

Probably not. But you probably never thought Woods would go four years and 16 tournaments without another major win. He's come close since winning the US Open in 2008—he has six top-six finishes since, including a second-place finish at the 2009 PGA Championship—but he hasn't been able to win.

And in recent memory, he's rarely been close. Woods has finished outside of the top-20 in four of his last five majors, with only a fourth-place finish at the 2011 Masters to hang his hat on.

Even the tournaments he has been close in have been full of disappointment.

At the 2009 PGA Championships, Woods went into the final day leading the tournament and promptly shot a three-over 75 and lost to Y.E. Yang by three strokes.

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At the 2010 US Open, Woods found himself in third place and within striking distance of leader Dustin Johnson at five strokes back. Had Woods played well he likely would have won the tournament after Johnson shot a final-round 82 and Graeme McDowell, in second place coming into Sunday, shot a final-round 74.

Instead, Woods matched that 74 and finished the tournament tied for fourth.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JUNE 17:  Tiger Woods of the United States waits with his caddie Joe Lacava on the second hole during the final round of the 112th U.S. Open at The Olympic Club on June 17, 2012 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Andrew Redington
Andrew Redington/Getty Images

And let's not forget this weekend. Woods was tied atop the leaderboard after play concluded on Friday and looked poised to break his majors drought.

And then he choked. He shot a 75 on Saturday and a 73 on Sunday, a disappointing plus-eight over the course of the weekend.

People have been getting their hopes up for a Woods resurgence this year and for good reason—after two years without a single tournament win, Woods has two victories (Memorial Tournament and Arnold Palmer Invitational) this year.

Let's repeat that—Woods didn't win a single tournament in 2010 and 2011. How the hell did that happen?

But hey, the dark days are over. He's finally won tournaments in 2012. Surely, this is the year he gets another major, right?

I don't think so. You only need to watch Woods during a round in which he struggles to see that something is missing in his game. He simply lacks the killer instinct and unwavering confidence that once defined him. You get the sense that Woods is playing with a sense of impending doom.

He doesn't look like a player who believes he'll be victorious. And that's the defining mark of the choker—a player talented enough to win who simply doesn't believe at his core that he's capable enough in the biggest moments.

After 14 major championships, no one could ever claim with a straight face that Woods deserves to be defined solely as a choker. He deserves better than that.

But if we're only looking at the past four years, I think you'll be hard-pressed to find an athlete expected to dominate his sport who has been a bigger choker than Tiger Woods.

And no, LeBron James did not put me up to this.

Hit me up on Twitter—my tweets have more style than a Russell Westbrook press conference.

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