Because a lot of guys are capable of winning majors these days. The last one, Bubba Watson, is the Tiger antithesis: He hasn’t had a lesson since age 10. “I just swing funny, and somehow it works,” he said. Can you imagine Woods uttering that sentence?
Tiger has changed swing coaches three times while I typed this sentence. His use of the weight room and his technician’s approach used to be a strength; now all the stroke doctoring seems sometimes to have twisted him into knots, both mentally and physically.
He’s in his head, the place, we are told, where golf is really played. By that standard, he’s on the course 24/7, which is not necessarily a good thing.
I’d love to see Woods win the Open, partly to stop all this “he’s back” and “he’s not back” talk and partly because when he’s on his game, he’s still the most exciting golfer on the course. That’s saying something considering that in his absence, some really good young golfers emerged. It’s no longer a punishment to watch a Tiger-less tournament.
The trouble is, we never know when his game is going to be on. He had what he used to call his “A” game Sunday, but when he struggles, he no longer produces “B” work. He flunks. That’s why it’s crazy to talk about him as the Open winner. He needs to produce strong back-to-back performances, show a little consistency and stop dissecting every aspect of his swing and his game like a deranged coroner. I’d say he just needs to have fun out there, but that’s never been a club in his bag. At least his confidence seems to be back.
“That was some good stuff out there,” Woods said. “I never really missed a shot today.”
Nope, not on this particular day. But San Francisco is 11 days and 2,400 miles from a good day in Dublin, Ohio. On June 17 — and not before — we’ll know if Woods is the U.S. Open champion, if he’s really back to the Tiger of old, and who killed Rosie Larsen. Everyone take a deep breath. Settle down. Enjoy the weather. They say waiting builds character. Let’s find out.
For Tracee Hamilton’s previous columns, go to washingtonpost.com/hamilton.