What does Tiger Woods need to do to get his game back on track? photo: Richard Carter

Has Tiger’s chance gone for good?

Serious questions must be asked about whether Tiger Woods will ever reach his previous dominance after failing to win the 2013 Open at Muirfield.

It has long been considered a matter of when, not if, Woods breaks Jack Nicklaus’s record of 18 major wins.

However, it is now five years since his remarkable win in the 2008 US Open at Torrey Pines and it seems Tiger is struggling to rediscover his aura of invincibility which led to him dominating golf during the early millennium.

With the damaging infidelity scandal which threatened his career well in the rear mirror and his overall game once again placing him at the pinnacle of golf’s rankings, one has to wonder why Tiger’s barren major run continues.

Woods, even at the peak of his powers, was never the most consistent with the driver. This has not changed with his driving accuracy percentage ranking at an underwhelming 55th on the PGA Tour in 2013.

However, having once upon a time been considered one of the most reliable putters on the tour, he has struggled to maintain form on the green in recent years, something which is highlighted by the fact that Woods took ten more shots on the Open greens than compatriot and eventual champion Phil Mickelson.

Woods has not had a putting coach since the passing of his father Earl in 2006, and it has to be questioned whether it is time for Tiger to obtain outside help to find some consistency on the greens.

Despite this, it is clear that Woods has far from lost his putting stroke, something evidenced by his remarkable work on the greens in his four PGA wins this year.

Nevertheless he has struggled to replicate such performances with any semblance of consistency.

It is easy to argue that Tiger’s struggles with the putter at the weekend stems from struggling with the pressure of attempting to end his five-year drought.

Woods appears to have lost the ruthless streak which served him so well in the first phase of his career. In his dominant years, Woods would tear away from the field with remarkable under-par weekend rounds.

But here’s a statistic for you. In the last two years his combined record on weekends at majors is a staggering +23.

This ostensible inability to dominate tournaments where he has previously excelled seems to highlight the effect his recent major drought has had on him mentally.

Nicklaus himself offered this up as an explanation to Tiger’s major drought when he commented ‘I don’t know what is happening between head and his ears…’.

But here’s a statistic for you. In the last two years his combined record on weekends at majors is a staggering +23

The ‘Golden Bear’ himself went through his own mini major downturn, failing to win after his US Open victory in 1967 until a success at the Open Championships in 1970.

It is also important to note that after making his breakthrough, Nicklaus then went on to win each of the other majors once again within the next two years.

The mentality of Tiger is further brought into focus by the remarkable statistic that he has not won a single one of his majors when not leading going into the final day.

Some would therefore argue that Woods falling away at Muirfield was hardly a surprise as he was two strokes back from leader Lee Westwood going into the concluding Sunday.

The very statistic hints at an inherent mental weakness. It seems that Woods struggles when not protected by the aura of invincibility that his early success provided him with.

This is something the American will have to overcome if he is to defeat Nicklaus’s long-standing record – and he will have to overcome it quickly.

Woods’ defiant stance in public suggests that he believes he is coming ever closer to breaking one of sport’s most remarkable barren runs, despite his recent struggles.

However, the 37-year-old is fast running out of opportunities to rediscover the dominance of his youth.

Comments (4)

  • he’s ranked number one golfer in the world after dropping in to the abyss…he’s won 14 majors and he’s only 37 and Nicklaus was 46 when he won his last major, so he has 9 years to match him…I think he’ll be alright 🙂

    • I think the biggest reason to worry is his trend of falling away at the weekend i.e. when the pressure is on. It’s one thing to be contending in the earlier rounds but quite another to have the skill and mentality to thrive on the weekend. Tiger showed before time and time again that he had this, so what does he need to do to rediscover the attributes that win majors? I think that was the point Harry was trying to make.

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