Tiger Woods: With the Ryder Cup Over, What's Next for Golf's No. 1 Player?

Ron FurlongAnalyst IIOctober 6, 2010

NEWPORT, WALES - SEPTEMBER 30:  Tiger Woods of the USA looks on during a practice round prior to the 2010 Ryder Cup at the Celtic Manor Resort on September 30, 2010 in Newport, Wales.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

The last thing anyone wants or needs to hear is a recap of Tiger Woods' last 10 months. Trust me, we all know the story. So, instead of looking back, let's look ahead.

The golf season is not quite over yet. The big event still on the fall calendar is the World Golf Championships, which will be played in Shanghai in November. Tiger has already committed to the event.

Woods will also play in the tournament that he hosts, the Chevron World Challenge the first week of December. The 18-player field figures to once again draw the top names in golf.

But, for all practical purposes, we can call it a year now that the Ryder Cup has been put to bed. A Ryder Cup in which Tiger, except for one hiccup with Steve Sticker in the team matches, played well, winning three of his four matches and earning the Americans three points.

So, where does Tiger go from here? How does he turn around this runaway train that was 2010 and maybe even learn from it?

Well, first things first, he's already learned from it. He couldn't help but do so. It has been a painful lesson for the world's best golfer, but clearly he has committed to moving forward and bringing his game back.

His game has improved as summer has turned to fall. The work he has done with Sean Foley in reinventing his swing and undoing the "Hank Haneyness" of it seems to be headed in the right direction. But, of course, it is a work in progress. Any player, even the world's greatest golfer, is going to be inconsistent while going through a major mechanics change like this.

One can see, as Tiger mentally works on the swing with each shot, that the short game has suffered with all the attention he is focusing on the swing. That is normal, and some time away from golf tournaments will no doubt help Woods round out all aspects of his game, not just the swing change.

One thing Woods has going for him in trying to climb out of this major funk is an undeniable hard work ethic. This in itself gives Tiger hope for a better 2011. He will not sit on the couch eating chips and sulking all winter. He will work on the game.

The swing change, the work ethic, the commitment to return to actually deserving the ranking of the world's No. 1 golfer are all things he has going for him; things he did not have going into 2010.

He has, without question, been humbled. He has been embarrassed. He has lost a lot. But one thing he hasn't done is given up. Even his staunchest detractors, of which there were many throughout 2010, would have to give him that. He has not gone away, and has no plans of doing so.

I will not give any bold predictions for 2011. My crystal ball broke when I was 11 years old and I've tried to refrain from pretending to know what the future holds. I will not tell you Tiger will regain his form and win six tournaments, including two majors.

But I will say this: It doesn't take Nostradamus to tell you 2011 is likely to be a heck of lot better year for Mr. Woods than 2010 was.


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