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Can Tiger roar once again at Royal Lytham?

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Iain Carter | 10:21 UK time, Tuesday, 3 July 2012

The needle on the gauge has oscillated all season. One week it aims firmly at the point that says "he's back" and the next it veers to an area that suggests "he's not".

Call it the Tigerometre and golf's current barometric conditions mean the indicator shows he has emphatically returned to the "back" phase.

This is because Tiger Woods has won again. After his triumph in his own PGA Tour event at Congressional last Sunday he is the only player with three victories to his name in 2012.

His previous two wins came in his final outings before the opening pair of majors this season. He claimed the Bay Hill title ahead of the Masters and the Memorial in his build up to the US Open.

Tiger Woods at the 2006 Open

Woods last won the Open Championship at Hoylake in 2006. Photo: Getty

Yet at both majors he flattered to deceive. At Augusta he was so out of sorts many pundits were absurdly calling him to sack coach Sean Foley while at the US Open he squandered the halfway lead over a miserable Olympic Club weekend.

In a change to his usual scheduling, Woods plays again this week at the Greenbrier in his final tune up for the year's third major, the Open Championship.

So which Mr Woods will turn up at Royal Lytham and St Annes? Will it be the one that has taken him beyond Jack Nicklaus's 73 PGA titles or will it be the one that has left him stuck four majors short of Nicklaus's tally in the tournaments that matter most?

It's hard to judge. Woods has been stuck on 14 majors since winning the 2008 US Open on one leg. His subsequent fitness and personal problems have been well documented and go a long way to explaining his barren run in the majors.

But it is worth looking at the 2009 season for more evidence of why it has been such a struggle for Woods to land his 15th grand slam title.

That was the year he won tournaments in each of his last appearances before all four majors but failed to sustain such winning form on the biggest stages.

This was pre-scandal and at a time when his aura was at its strongest - after all this was the guy who had won a US Open with a broken leg. It was a superhuman effort, yet a year later there were clear frailties and at the Open at Turnberry he missed the cut.

More significantly, for the first time he failed to win a major after leading going into the final round when YE Yang stood up to Woods at the PGA Championship. It's a well-used line, but eternally apposite; it was the end of an aura.

Later that year he hit the hydrant and his knee and Achilles have subsequently played up on several occasions.

These days players are much less likely to fear Tiger Woods because they know he is as prone to human frailty as they are. Maybe even more so.

It is probably harder than it has ever been for Woods to win a major. So many players can win them. We have had 15 different winners in the last 15 majors and none of those golfers shared the same burden of expectation as the current world number four.

So is he back? Of course he is. His swing is as good as it has been in years and his putting touch seems to be improving as well.

Is he back to where he was at the height of his powers? Of course not. It would be utterly amazing if he were ever to get close again.

Nevertheless, Woods, currently number four in the world, stands every chance of making it back to number one. He might not even need to win a major to do that - Luke Donald and Lee Westwood are living proof of that possibility.

But he won't be a top dog with the colossal points lead that he used to command. Those days are gone.

And is Woods going to win a fourth Open title later this month? Maybe, but he should be thought of as only one member of a huge group of potential winners, not the out and out favourite. The same applies at August's PGA at Kiawah.

The reason for this is that, although he is a 14-time champion, the 2012 version of Tiger seems at his most fallible at the majors.

He plays with a similar weight of pressure to that felt by the likes of Donald and Westwood who are trying to win their first major - and Woods is coping about as well as them.

Even so, it is a big fillip for golf that the former number one is proving dominant once again at rank and file events on the PGA Tour. He brings a unique buzz and we will undoubtedly feel its benefits at Lytham.

But that is as far as it goes. It's anyone's guess what reading the Tigerometre will provide by the time we reach Sunday night of Open week.

Comments

Page 1 of 4

  • Comment number 1.

    Tiger has come a long way and his current progress will be a worrying factor. I for one am watching more golf now just to see how he will do. Not many would do what he has done. His success rate has to be higher than the way success is measured. We must remember that for a long period when it s recorded that he did not have a win, he was not playing anyway.

  • Comment number 2.

    Tiger, Tiger, Tiger!! Great blog Iain........

    Did anyone see Tigers shot from behind the Tree on Sunday?? One of the best shots i have ever seen, pure genius yet again, to risk all for that shot was a masterclass, he could of broke his wrist, hand or anything playing that shot. Tiger is on the prowl and all you doubters will proven wrong, just like you have been when you all said he wont win again!!

  • Comment number 3.

    Iain, I can't believe you haven't even mentioned Jamie Donaldson's fantastic first European Tour win at the Irish Open. I know Tiger is a big story, but to not even give a shout out to Donaldson is scandalous!

  • Comment number 4.

    Ian good blog I like the tiger ometer ref. Could replace reps as the new Tiger speak.
    You have pretty much covered all the Tiger questions, the big one remains will he get near Jacks record? For me he has the talent and the game but not as conssistantly as he used to. The point about Aura is a good one, Robert Rock although he was full of admiration for his quote one of his heroes he still beat him when in the past he and most others would have crumbled. So Tiger not only has to beat the course he now has to beat his opponents. Bet Ernie wishes he was a few years younger as his major haul might have been more substantial without the Tiger factor.

  • Comment number 5.

    I think the blog fairly summarises TWs position in the world of golf at the moment. It is clear he is one of the best golfers in the world at the moment, and he has want that through performances this season, and not because of his past.

    He will always be a victim of, and measured against his phenomenal success circa 5years ago. He was streets ahead and he was surrounded by great golfers.

    Today's young guns don't necessarily fear him some say, but look at the way GMac and van pelt disintegrated in final rounds against TW this year, proof he still has some aura and that some golfers will be susceptible to it.,!

    We have yet to see him go down the stretch against Rory or lee, but TW would still be backedby most to win such a tussle.

    The open suits his new game, won't use the driver much, and again regardless of his past success, he will be favourite because of his performance this season.

  • Comment number 6.

    The other interesting thing for me will be how will Tiger tackle Lytham ? His approach to Hoylake was a tactical masterclass, one driver all week,this year he will have to keep the ball in play which could mean an approach to the course in the same way. Lots of 2 irons and 3 woods off the tee. I guess it will depend on the conditions, anyone have any idea what Lytham is looking like at present?????

  • Comment number 7.

    "But he won't be a top dog with the colossal points lead that he used to command. Those days are gone."
    ______________________________________________________________________

    Dear IC,

    Please revisit your words at the end of 2013.

  • Comment number 8.

    Yorkie I have to say your right the young guys have not experienced Tiger at his best and dont carry the scars. The thing is though these guys had him as their hero so he will still have some factor over them, probably spur them on to try and beat him.
    Of the brits/ irish Westy, Rose, Poulter and Paddy who is sneaking into form have the best chance maybe Rory if its sunny and benign. Tiger will justify being favourite though as he should.

  • Comment number 9.

    GB afternoon he will have to put in a great second half of the year to get anywhere near his near 20 point advantage he had at his peak. Dont forget the rankings reflect 2 years play and last year was a write off for him.

  • Comment number 10.

    #3 MilkWasABadChoice
    You what? This is a blog, not a news service - In a blog it's perfectly legitimate to focus on any one topic of the moment. Scandalous, oh come on!



    #7 Golden Bear - You confuse me - Do you rate TW or not?

    From the last blog:

    #77 Golden Bear wrote:
    I see many have chosen Woods. He won't win. You want to know who will?

    Then, bizarrely

    #111 Golden Bear wrote:
    AT&T:
    Adam Scott, Day, Tiger Woods

    So, "he won't win" ... then you picked him ... then he won!

    Mind you, good call on Adam Scott

  • Comment number 11.

    It is unlikely we'll see the massive points difference again, although the fact that the rest of the field is quite open with no real dominance surely leaves the door open for Tiger to become a clear number one again if he can get the consistency back. The situation is calling out for someone to really take that position. Interesting to see how McIlroy developes as well though.
    Davey, GB did say end of 2013 - effectively that would be two years from the beginning of 2012 for the ranking events to count. So yes it is possible although not sure how likely!

  • Comment number 12.

    The weekend performance at the US open was overplayed, I think. Having watched the whole thing (along with the truly awful Sky coverage) and he was a couple of feet away from perfect shots on lots of occasions Thursday through Sunday - not a big deal on most courses. It was set up so strangely, as on lots of the holes there was no place to miss - you either hit a perfect shot or have a tough up and down. Nothing in-between. He was far from the only person to have a poor weekend.

    Obviously, being a massive fan, i'm glad to see him competing well week in week out. The viewing figure increases he still commands are just insane. I especially liked the way he played the 18th - In 2008/2009 there's no way he would have hit driver off that tee with a one shot lead. Obviously very confident through the bag.

    I don't really know anything about Lytham, I don't remember anything at all about the 2001 tournament despite watching roughly every shot that was played (ah, uni days). Is it really dependant on weather for protection, like Portrush?

  • Comment number 13.

    People getting overexcited. Tiger will win again but not that often. I have used a highly sophisticated computer prediction software that has an error margin of .002%. Tiger will end his career with 16 majors. This is as close to a guarantee you will ever get. This system calculated 21 million combinations in seconds.

  • Comment number 14.

    I don't like Tiger because of his non-existant personality. But regardless the game needs him back at the top.

    We have too many also-rans winning majors, which is diluting their value. Frankly i'm sick of the Rory Mcilroy hype, i want to watch good golf not someone who prefers living the celebrity lifestyle. I never felt much joy for Bubba Watson winning either; his hit and hope style lacks proper skill. And Lefty's never going to win again outside Augusta, he plays like a bad version of Seve Ballesteros these days.

    Golf needs a star, and Tiger is the only one who can take that mantle.

  • Comment number 15.

    @13.
    What variables did it use? My computer can do 3 billion calculations per second..so what?

  • Comment number 16.

    84641 - Maybe he was hedging his bets, I didnt think Woods would win but i picked him anyway.

    Or maybe he has short term memory problems and cannot remember what he's said from one minute to the next, which might explain the rather contradictory statements.

    Regarding Tiger, a win is a win so well done him. I just hope Iain is right about Woods not becoming the dominant force again. Its just boring whenever someone runs away from the field. During, for want of a better phrase, Tigers "1st career" it was something he was rather prone to.

  • Comment number 17.

    @ stevieeng34

    "People getting overexcited. Tiger will win again but not that often"
    ______________________________________________________________________

    "I remember there was a time when people were saying I could never win again. That was, I think, what, four months ago and here we are,"

    TW (July, 1, 2012)

  • Comment number 18.

    @16, whys it boring if Tiger wins by 12-15 shots? Watching Tigers golf during that era certainly wasn't boring, it was the fields problem for not upping their game in response. Players like Ernie Els preferred to stop working rather than work harder when Tiger was cleaning their clocks out.

    What's boring is not being able to predict who will win majors, because someone utterly random has been winning them for the last 4 years without playing particularly great golf. That's boring because we're not seeing any outstanding play that makes your jaw drop.

  • Comment number 19.

    Thank you at 13 and sorry GB will dig my Don 247 reading glasses out doh

  • Comment number 20.

    @18 - Its boring in my opinion because i like competitive sport to be competivive. A Woods win by multiple shots, whilst being an impressive feat have no tension, no excitement, no drama, none of the aspects that make golf great. Exactly the same goes for 2010 Open Championship or 2011 US Open.

  • Comment number 21.

    @18 Mate interesting Bubba plays hit and hope sorry the guy has more control over the golf ball than many a pro. If he rained it in he like Phil could win many more tournaments he plays Bubba golf and why not. Watch his clips on you tube esp the chip out of his porch into his hot tub genius.
    Tiger is Tiger a one and only in his era and golf is better for his participation in THE GAME.

  • Comment number 22.

    I personally think the ominous omen for other golfers is that Mr Woods is starting to get a little consistency back. I like the reference about the 'end of the aura' because when he fell from grace, his entire game crumbled, he has been rebuilding which we all know, and things are slowly falling into place. With regards to winning the Majors, there's not a player currently who KNOWS how to get it done like this guy. His apparent return is great for golf, the interest the former most marketable athlete generates is like no other, and everyone likes a redemption story/return of a master! Think it's early to say whether the aura's back but time will tell!

  • Comment number 23.

    @18 yes of course we like close competition, but the way to achieve that is not by removing the best player, as has happened in golf with Tigers decline.

    It's better if other players raise their game, like in Tennis when new players upped their game to challenge Federer. Therefore we get competitive sport that is high quality.

    This has not happened in golf, instead we're seeing an era where there's no outstanding players.

  • Comment number 24.

    It is the mistakes that have cost him over the past three years, those same mistakes he is slowly reducing. Can he dominate again? Time will tell, but it will be a brave man to bet against him.

  • Comment number 25.

    #10 and #16,

    Interesting..... so people do read my comments after all..... :)

  • Comment number 26.

    The aura comes as much from the crowd as anything else - and you've seen that recently. As he plays better, the crowd get more involved. I've always found it strange when people say he has no personality. I get that his interviews are dull, but he was obviously trained from very young to give nothing away. It just doesn't make sense for him to give thrilling, tell all interviews. On the course, however, he has SO much personality. He feeds off the crowd, the crowd feed off him. Always tense, always high emotion. I love his on course demeanor.

  • Comment number 27.

    Archi I think the aura is dead and buried for the time being anyway.
    The next 18 months will define Woods career, if he does not pick up at least two majors then for me Jack will be safe.If he can perform in the majors and wins at least two of the next six then he has a chance. Old father time is ticking on and the young guns are breathing down his neck. To be fair to him I dont think any of the current crop will get near Tigers record let alone Jacks.

  • Comment number 28.

    Last comment was in response to comment 20.

    @21, Bubba is not a genius. Anyone could come up with some flashy shots if they try to play like he does. Most other players opt for a bit more consistency.

    Bubbas game might work once in a while, but i don't see him playing consistently to a high standard.

  • Comment number 29.

    @28 He may not win that often but he holds a major and the shot he played in the play off will go down as one of the great shots in Masters history. The guy is fun to watch an eccentric and lets be honest who wants to watch 70 fairways and greens men bore their way to victory? Seve or Faldo mmm.

  • Comment number 30.

    #9,

    TW had 20 pts, but it was a 10 point advantage (not 20). I said end 2013. Half a year to go for 2012 and a full year in 2013. Assume 25 tournaments. Also assume a 25% win rate (think it's fair to assume he will win another 6 tournaments, including 1 major), with the rest being top 15s.

    I think the above scenario will return TW to No. 1, with a 5 point lead over No. 2.

  • Comment number 31.

    @23 - Good job i didnt suggest removing him then. Glad you agreed with me, most people come round in time.

    Its interesting that you state that golfs current unpredictability is boring, you must be one of the only sports fans in the world to hold that view.

  • Comment number 32.

    @29, bit ridiculous to compare Bubba to Seve. Seve was great fun to watch and he could turn on the style consistently. Bubba did so once at the masters, but the idea he'll become like Seve is fanciful.

    I agree with you about Faldo, most of his wins were because other players choked. If Lee Westwood had Faldos luck he'd be on six majors by now.

  • Comment number 33.

    How often do we see Tiger tee off and then the golf club go off in all sorts of weird directions in his follow through? It's almost as if he's expecting to hit a duff drive.

    People have a pop at Andy Murray for beating himself up when things aren't going well but Tiger is guilty of exactly them same thing. If he gets the mental side right we might see him win another major but Lytham is probably too soon.

  • Comment number 34.

    having the best player of a generation winning again can only be good news for golf fans, but I agree with comments re his intimidating fear factor - it ain't what it once was. Given our glorious summer so far, it's a safe bet that Lytham will be playing long, so stinger 2 irons and 3 woods will not be enough. With a driver in his hands Tiger still looks vunerable ... Could be perfect for Westwood though ...

  • Comment number 35.

    A consistent Tiger is better than any golfer out there, he knows how to win and that will always stand him in goodstead. He has reached his PGA and open total at 36. Over the span of the remainder of his CAREER he will overhaul Nicklaus open total as he has already done with the PGA. He will eventually over take Sam Snead as well. So we should simply just enjoy the greatest golfer ever. Who still gets it done with the weight of expectation and analysis which Nicklaus never faced. Go Tiger

  • Comment number 36.

    Tiger was hitting 9 Irons 210 yards into the green's on Sunday just gone, so i cant imagine distance being any problem for him at Lytham! We will see the 3 and 5 wood used quite a lot at Lytham from Tiger and i think we will also see Tiger picking up another major trophy quite comfortably

  • Comment number 37.

    "Call it the Tigerometre " NO!
    I might be tempted to call it the Tigerometer...
    Back to school young man!

  • Comment number 38.

    TW may have fluked the AT&T, but won't win the Greenbrier. My picks:
    Scott Stallings, Brendon de Jong, Tiger Woods.

    Alstom Open:
    Fabrizio Zanotti, Matteo Manassero, Francesco Molinari

  • Comment number 39.

    Tiger Woods...again.

    What is it about the BBC and Woods? Every single time a major comes about you predict he will win it...and then he doesn't.

    I'm extremely glad that we don't have to sit through major after major of Tiger Woods winning everything. It made golf so boring and what made it worse, it followed an era from the 1980 to mid-1990s when gold was anything but boring.

    I wouldn't mind if the guy had anything interesting to say, or if he encouraged others to take up the sport. He does nothing to promote golf and does nothing for its image.

    Please BBC, get off this merry-go-round, as it is insulting to those golfers who are actually winning majors (whom you rarely give any coverage to at all).

  • Comment number 40.

    He's actually surprised me - his game looked in tatters a year ago. I think he has a good chance to win a major this year but as Ian is right, there are so many contenders. In fact the blog is a very well balanced articulation of where Tiger is right now.

  • Comment number 41.

    "He does nothing to promote golf"

    Hahahahahahaha! Oh man! Nice one.

  • Comment number 42.

    he has no chance off winning the open and please start talking about other golfers, he will never be back to what he was.

  • Comment number 43.

    Well written Iain, of course Tiger is back. Only 3 time winner this season and I predict he will win at least 3 more including 1 major. Will he overtake Jack? Probably. He has another 10 years to play at the top as long as his body holds up. That's 40 majors, he won't win them all but I bet he's close at most of them.
    Greenbriar
    Tiger, Immelmann and Snedeker
    French
    Westwood, Havret and Gonzo

  • Comment number 44.

    #42 The point of this blog is to comment on Iains article. This one is about Tiger hence comment on Tiger. No one believes he will get back to the total dominance of the past but he will get close and I for one welcome this. It will be interesting to see if the new generation will be able to resist the Tiger effect and not be intimidated purely by seeing HIS name on the leader boards.

  • Comment number 45.

    @39

    So you are obviously not aware of the TW Foundation or Academy.

    TW is a very wealthy man and throughout his success has spent a large amount of time and money encouraging children and not always in golf.

    We are fortunate at the moment to witness the recovery of a man who had a very challenging period in his personal life and the sporting media, including the BBC, want us to see it. He is still the biggest name in sport so just sit back, chill out and enjoy a Master at work.

  • Comment number 46.

    #39

    To say TW does nothing to promote golf is just plain silly dear boy.

    He has won three times this year and everyone knows he is still improving, if that is not a scary prospect for his competitors then I don't know what is

    Rory has the chance to win ten majors, but he does not have the dedication of TW, now before people read that wron, Rory is extremely dedicated, you have to be to be as good at go,f as he is, but the thing that put TW aside from his peers is his constant desire to do better, he strives for perfection which is why he comes across negatively sometimes, he is a machine, he has to work at his game to keep his standards up, whereas Rory has more raw talent you would suggest.

  • Comment number 47.

    utopastac #12 - it being a US open, guess who is in charge of the coverage?? THE US BROADCASTERS, you absolute muppet! Sky has absolutely no control over the television coverage!!

    shows how some people just love having a pop at anything, just because they enjoy the sound of their own condemnation, without bothering to check their facts.

    #troll

    Btw - loving colin montgomerie as a commentator.

    Guys, is it just me or has the Ryder Cup been kind of underplayed so far? I mean ... its only 3 months away!!!

    EUROPE! EUROPE! EUROPE!

  • Comment number 48.

    @47

    As I recall - which is 100% accurately - I had to listen to the awful, awful commentary of Colin Montgomerie, Mark Roe and Ewan Murray. Those are the facts, they don't need checking! I wasn't complaining about the pictures, I was complaining about the COVERAGE, Mr All caps.

  • Comment number 49.

    Let us just appreciate a genius at work. This guy is the most watched and scrutinized spot person out there and yet he still produce at a high standard. I bet if Rory (boy wonder) is half scrutinized as Tiger then we will know how good he really his

  • Comment number 50.

    Good blog Iain.

    Agree with mickeysausage regarding Tiger's length (no pun intended)
    Anyone knocking a 9-iron 210 yards, ain't gonna struggle with distance.

    Also enjoyed Iain's brief summarising...

    'Later that year he hit the hydrant and his knee and Achilles have subsequently played up on several occasions.'

    We all know he was hitting more than the hydrant !!

  • Comment number 51.

    @49..Good point, I think we are watching the "rebirth" of the (arguably) greatest golfer ever!!?? He's by far the hottest player on the planet, And Lytham will set up like Hoylake for him ( discount "fairweather" Rors).
    I'm interested in Don's opinion, because, he's another of the he won't dominate again brigade. Well, he's accrued the most points on the OWGR this year and will have the so called "top 3 with 1 major between them" looking (over their shoulder/crying out for TW to get injured!?) like a rabbit in the headlights.
    All you haters need to accept (like I've said before , give hime time!!??) that he's back and he'll be the favourite for every event he enters!

    Tiger is back, end of story!!??

  • Comment number 52.

    #51 matt, I don't think anyone could disagree that he's "back". Definitely the in-form golfer at the moment. Whether he's back to his best is another thing entirely. Winning The Open would certainly put the wind up a few of his rivals.

    Of course Woods has been exceptionally lucky that his career coincided with a dearth in all-time greats, unlike Jack Nicklaus.

    You're right that TW will be favourite for every event now, and that's probably justified. However, if he's 4-1 favourite that still means he probably won't win.

  • Comment number 53.

    Anyone using the term 'haters' should immediately be sent to their room with no TV or internet privileges.

    !!??

  • Comment number 54.

    @ no.7

    totally agree with you son.

    let's wait till 2013, this is a guy who has changed his shot several times, it looks like it's slowly but surely coming together.

    hopefully injuries won't side-track him.

  • Comment number 55.

    @ fallentaith,

    too funny man, but l agree.

  • Comment number 56.

    Well done Matt that's opened up ALL the debates. He's back. The greatest ever, fair weather Rors, OWGR. Sorry nearly all you missed checkers and bottlers.

  • Comment number 57.

    "Of course Woods has been exceptionally lucky that his career coincided with a dearth in all-time greats, unlike Jack Nicklaus."

    Ah, that old chestnut! What a silly thing to say. Phil, Vijay, Couples - even Faldo was only 39 when Tiger turned pro. The only reason, you could argue, that Els, Davis Love, Furyk and a whole host of others won't necessarily be remembered as all time greats is *because* of Tiger winning so many events and specifically majors.

  • Comment number 58.

    I meant chokers not checkers. I have no idea where that came from.

  • Comment number 59.

    @ 84641.. We'll never see his best again dude, 2000 was probably the best golf you'll ever see!? I think that if he's at his best now (and carries on the form he's showing), then he'll still beat anyone in the world!?
    Let's remember, people questioned whether he'd even win again!! I think he's answered that one emphatically.

  • Comment number 60.

    Without Tiger, golf TV is a tailspin. With all due respect to the Irish golfers and fans that drink gallons of Guinness watching their beloved countrymen, face it TV golf is purely boring without Tiger in contention for the rest of us. So let's blog the positive side of Tiger and leave the negatives out of it. Tiger is truely great playing against other great golfers. Like Jamie what's-his-name.
    http://www.golf.com/tour-and-news/pga-proves-it-without-tiger-tv-golf-tailspin

  • Comment number 61.

    I think it's time to stop second guessing Tiger or wheather he will win the next major or his present form. I'm sure a lot of the media people never thought he would win again, I'm happy to see that he's proving everyone wrong, form is temporary however class is permanent.

    Despite not winning any tournament last year, he has picked up 3 already this year, rather than comment on wheather he will win the next major or not acknowledge that whatever he his working on is starting to yield results and i believe it's only a matter of time, the majors will come.

    Winning is contagious, the more wins he gets, watch this space major 15, 16, 17 18 and more will come. Golf needs Tiger and i'm glad he is proving a lot of people wrong, rather than scrutinise is game, let the other players who are struggling with form learn from him

  • Comment number 62.

    He's won 3 of his last 7 and he led the last major at halfway. He's the clear favourite to win the open and rightly so. But not an overwhelming favourite: I agree with the prices I've seen, 5/1 or thereabouts, meaning he's far more likely not to win at Lytham than to win. It's great that Tiger's back at the top, though. There really is no substitute.

  • Comment number 63.

    "The needle on the gauge has oscillated all season. One week it aims firmly at the point that says "he's back" and the next it veers to an area that suggests "he's not"."

    Hahaha.....you mean your needle on your gauge? Practically every blog you write is either directly about, or gives note to the subject of whether or not Tiger is ‘back’, so don’t pretend you’re some detached onlooker to the media circus...you are the media circus!!

    In any case, and as you say, it’s not rocket science: It is clear that Woods is improving. With each win his confidence is growing and, whilst he hasn’t quite transferred this to four rounds in a major of late, his position as a major contender is borne-out by his slowly improving world ranking. In short, he is definitely in the mix, but it’s a big-ish mix.

    As to the question of whether he’s ‘back’ or not, I guess there are those who will constantly look back to his purple patch and always judge him to be a shadow of the player he was. But for me, his comeback has already hinted at a different side to his greatness: with billions in the bank and having been written off by the world and his dog, he has nevertheless demonstrated an appetite to put in real graft and get himself back towards the summit of the game. Will we ever see the near-unbeatable swashbuckling Woods of circa 2000? I doubt it. But the very fact that he is giving it a serious go is testament to arguably the greatest competitor in the history of the sport.

    Good blog Iain!

  • Comment number 64.

    "But he won't be a top dog with the colossal points lead that he used to command. Those days are gone."

    I didn't realise you were psychic. Given his most recent form it's a bit premature to be saying that.

    The scary thing is people have actually commented that you wrote a good blog. You stated a few facts and made some wild predictions based on who know's what. It was a poor effort.

  • Comment number 65.

    As I thought this blog would get peoples juices flowing, whether you like him or not woods puts bums on seats as they say. His record as a golfer speaks for itself. People should get away from the heat type magazine trash and enjoy Arguably one of the greatest golfers ever to swing a club.
    Who do most of the other pro's admire if you ask them ??? Not that many answer with any name other than Tiger.
    As much as I would love a home player to win the open if not then Woods would be a great open champion.
    For all the trash written and known we as golf fans don't know about half the good stuff he does that he does not court publicity for.
    So move on like he is trying to enjoy the golf forget the bs.

  • Comment number 66.

    Tiger is showing signs of recovery - especially with the irons - but he's a long way to go with the driver. It shows how bad he is with that club when we're talking about his driving all the time and the best players still only average around 60% fairways hit.

    If he went to a heavier driver (as heavy as possible) so he could feel the clubhead again like he could when he burst onto the scene pulverising the ball with a steel shaft he'd be unbeatable.

  • Comment number 67.

    @66why on earth would he want to use a steel shafted driver?? Surely that's a backward move. He just needs to find consistentcy with what he has.

  • Comment number 68.

    The23rdMan

    "Tiger is showing signs of recovery - especially with the irons - but he's a long way to go with the driver. It shows how bad he is with that club when we're talking about his driving all the time and the best players still only average around 60% fairways hit.

    If he went to a heavier driver (as heavy as possible) so he could feel the clubhead again like he could when he burst onto the scene pulverising the ball with a steel shaft he'd be unbeatable."

    Eh what? His driving has improved significantly in 2012, look at the stats, they prove it. This week admittedly he didn't drive the ball well but at 18 he pulled the driver out and bombed it down the fairway 330 yards. That is clutch.

    Tiger is the best player in the world at the moment, he was 50th in the world in November and has climbed all the way back up in a short period of time.

    He's ready to prove the doubters and naysayers wrong and I for one love it.

    Go Tiger!

  • Comment number 69.

    Only 70 comments??? I was expecting the 3rd page!!!

    Where's everyone?

  • Comment number 70.

    Sometimes I wonder why Tiger reaches for his driver. It seems to me that he hits his 3 wood almost as far and has better control of it. Even on those monster 600 yard holes he will always put himself in position for at least a birdie.

  • Comment number 71.

    Quite right GB we will never get to 1000 at this rate

  • Comment number 72.

    If Tiger notches up another couple of wins and even one major, it is likely that he will not just be number one, but have said significant points advantage. Pretty much every week he plays he is losing very few ranking points and gaining so very many.

    It will be an interesting Open for sure.

  • Comment number 73.

    i've heard some stupid questions in my time but "is tiger back" is right up there!

    the guy's already won 3 of the most prestigious tourneys on the pga tour this year, leads the fedex standings and is only just getting warmed up

    does he still have the aura?...are you kidding?...just ask the guy that will have to eyeball him on ryder cup sunday!!!

    will he prevail at lytham? - like a previous blogger, i think much will depend on the conditions - i followed him around hoylake a few years back and it was a masterclass in strategy and course management - if it's equally benign up on the fylde coast, beware the tiger!

    good blog, iain...apart from one small point...you really shouldn't mention westwood and donald in the same sentence as tiger...they're not worthy of shining his footjoys...different class!

  • Comment number 74.

    Also - this nonsense about Tiger's driving ability - It needs to stop. Stats fans used numerous facts about missed fairways to punish his driving abilities. Look at them now.

  • Comment number 75.

    #57 utopastac

    A silly thing to say? I don't think so, it's just my opinion. In my opinion out of the "rivals" you mentioned (discounting Faldo who didn't really coincide), only Singh and Mickelson might sneak into the top 20 of all time. Watson, Trevino, Player - all in the top ten of all time.

    Of course other opinions are available without me suggesting that they are silly.

  • Comment number 76.

    Guys be serious Tiger has won 3 times on the US Tour this season which for the vast majority of the elite who play at this level would equal a very successful career. (look at how many Brits have won once or more over there) In my opinion it's a matter of time until he wins another major, how many more that's another question.

  • Comment number 77.

    @67: I didn't say he should use a steel shafted driver, although he'd hit more fairways with one. I said he needs a club he can feel at transition. His impact lines are better with his irons, but he's still flailing his driver.

    @68: His driving is woeful. ALL of the tours driving is woeful. They are using equipment designed to hit the ball miles and miles and hang the fairway. The courses are set-up so a premium on accuracy and shot making is no longer a target. Bomb and gouge, bomb and gouge. Golf is one dimensional in the modern game compared to the great ears of ball striking masters.

    I'll make this clear and in bold I DON'T BLAME THE PLAYERS.

    The USGA, R&A and manufacturers are to blame because they allow equipment to be all about distance. Golf is now a distance and putting contest and if anyone disputes this then look at the stats from even twenty years ago when Norman - the best driver of a ball in the persimmon ear - averages 70%+ fairways hit and the best players hit that many greens regularly. These days they hardly hit 50% of each and that's coming out of wispy rough or the fairway with wedges!

    The modern equipment Is designed in wind tunnels by boffins, not by golfers. There is a reason Hogan, Trevino et al set-up their clubs themselves and had them flat, stiff and HEAVY - because it promotes a proper pivot driven release of the club under pressure. Modern gear is too upright and too light and we all suffer.

    I know I'm not going to win many of you guys over, but I urge you to look into this yourself and you might see that the stats bear me out. you might also try an experiment with old stiff shafted blades and add a load of lead tape and have them bent 6* flat. Until you do this you're fighting physics.

    Here endeth the sermon. ;_0

  • Comment number 78.

    @74: Missing the fairway SHOULD be punished! It is not because of my points above. Check out how the modern players reacted to a properly setup golf course by youtubing the Canadian open 2011 (might be 2011).

  • Comment number 79.

    Woods is just a considerably better golfer than the rest.

    As for the major issue it is just a matter of time. Think back early this year he lost in the middle east and he also screwed up the Aussie masters. Once he got used to it he is now winning on the regular tour like it is easy.

    The major will come in the next two if conditions suit him. In the us open he got caught out by the water on the course after playing on Friday afternoon where the course played bone hard.

    I expect him to win by blowing the field away. I think it will come where he is so far in front it won't be an issue about his nerves as he will be that far in front.

  • Comment number 80.

    #77. Some really good points. This blog has some good debate for once. However 23rdman who is this ball striking master with the great ears.

  • Comment number 81.

    @77...sounds like you know what you're talking about [apart from the ears!]...i play mizuno blades and recently switched from S300s to R300s on the advice of a mizuno fitting centre and now hit my irons higher but weaker...i want my penetrating flight back!...can you just explain the 6* flat...what's the thinking here!

  • Comment number 82.

    77

    I agree that the modern game isn't about accuracy. Funny that I read when Harmon met Woods as a kid, the young Tiger said he didn't care about accuracy because he hit it so far he'd only need a wedge in anyway. How little changes! I thought at the US Open he had his old stinger 2 iron working, but Tiger's game clearly isn't as sound as in 2006. In the majors, something goes missing, whether it's the long or the short game. It's the short game deficiencies that really hurt him though. He used to be able to grind out a score even when his long game went awry: not so much now.

  • Comment number 83.

    Era not ears! Typotastic!

    The idea behind flat lies is this (and I wont go into the physics because it's complex and fuddles my brain): The idea angle between the spine and the shaft through the impact area is 90*. This is only achievable if the hands are low through impact. With low hands comes a right arm that is bent at the elbow and supportive of the strike because it remains tight to the body and pivot. Take a look at any image of Hogan, Snead, Trevino, Palmer etc through impact and you'll see this bent right arm.

    the opposite is, say Mickleson, who, like most modern players, throws the clubhead down the target line and flips with the hands. This is so timing dependant that us mortals cannot ever hope to be consistent doing that, which is born out by the inconsistency of the best players in the world who practice every day.

    Hogan used clubs that were xx stiff, very heavy (his wedges over a pound!) and very flat because he could then feel them all the time AND a heavy club transitions itself so much easier because at the top it wants to sit down behind you making flipping of over the top moves much harder.

    Try it. Buy an old set of blades with stiff shafts for 20 quid of eBay and stick a few strips of lead tape on a 7 iron and get it bent to about 56* and see how you have to hit it. ;-)

  • Comment number 84.

    82, I agree with that.

  • Comment number 85.

    Also with flat irons - again because of the physics involved - the flatter they are the less directionally they are affected by misses. Instead of left and right your misses will affect trajectory instead.

  • Comment number 86.

    thanks 23rd but i've got brainache now...i guess i'll just have to stick with what i've got!

  • Comment number 87.

    That's fine too. ;-)

  • Comment number 88.

    23 man you sure know some stuff are you involved in fitting etc or just well read? Maybe your related to our Don 24 of long blog posts.
    Talking of Don where are you with one of your Don long analysis of all current things golf?

  • Comment number 89.

    No, not a fitter except as a hobby. I'm just passionate about the game being played properly. Food great info it's worth checking out ex touring pro Bradley Hughes on YouTube. I learnt a lot from him.

  • Comment number 90.

    23rdman Really enjoyed what you have had to say, although I did get a bit lost with some of the science stuff. As I have got older I have had to change clubs to suit my age and expanding waistline. I could never understand why some top golfers decide to completely remodel a successful swing. Harrington wins 3 majors, changes and is never the same again (he does however appear to be regaining his form). Which of Tigers swings do you think was best. Will this new one be as successful as the one that made him?

  • Comment number 91.

    V interesting reading re clubs.

    Especially as my major flaw is coming over the top. I play with titleist blades with x stiff shaft which helps, but with driver can't get consistent at all

  • Comment number 92.

    We will see

  • Comment number 93.

    @23rd

    I'm not going to take too much issue with you however one point is you refer to playing the game "Properly" and setting courses up "properly"

    I doubt it was your intention but you come across as snobby in this respect, there are many ways to play the game, many ways to set up a course, many variables in golf in general, its one of the joys of the game of golf and indeed it is one of the great strengths of golf that there is no "proper way to do things".

    And by the way i say this as someone who plays blades (Quite badly) so i guess by modern standards i'm somewhat a traditionalist, I wont be getting them adjusted 6 degrees flat though

  • Comment number 94.

    Anyway now that i have that off my chest i will proceed with a very lazy prediction update.

    1) Nobody socred any points for the Irish Open because virtually everyone went for 3 out of Harrington, Weemac, GMac, and Paul Lawrie with the odd Other thrown in.

    2) Everyone Went for Woods and thus picked up 10 points with the exception of BMG

    3) Golden Bear and Wibbilous Wobbilous also picked Adam Scott and also added an extra 3 points to their 10 points for Woods.

  • Comment number 95.

    Overall scores and therefore as follows



    Jimmy 141
    Daveyboy 131
    8 for 6 for 1 130
    Cfcboy23 115
    Mattefc 112
    Maninasuitcase 102
    Gbell 101
    Golfrants 84
    BiloMct 79
    Powerhitter 78
    Yorkshire Blogster 77
    The Sorcerer 70
    Sumo82 59
    BMG 58
    Wibbliouswobblious 57
    Undersiege 46
    Golden Bear 33
    Anglesdan 18
    Whycantihititstraight 13
    The Lion 0

  • Comment number 96.

    Jimmy, the way things are going we will have to pick 2nd,3rd and 4th whenever Tiger is in the field. The soon to be the greatest is back.

  • Comment number 97.

    :-( That wouldnt be very interesting now would it.

  • Comment number 98.

    Tiger Woods is the best golfer of his era, no one can dispute that. He is (when he's on song) so much better than the rest. His record proves that.
    Is he the GoAT ? Not yet. By results and in other golfing parlance. By that I mean general accessibility, persona and attitude. Maybe when / if he beats Nicklaus's record then he may relax and chill out a bit. I certainly don't seee anyone in my lifetime equalling those records.

    Do I like TW as a person ? No. Why ? I can't really put my finger on it. I don't know the guy but there's just something that makes me dislike him. I expect sportsmen to "give" something back to the game as in sign autographs, chat with the fans, give "human" interviews etc. He is driven to succeed in the extreme and as such comes across badly. In this sense the "young guns" should all take a leaf out of his book and see what they can really aciheve if they were like minded !

    At the moment I don't think TW has the aura he had. Golf pro's have had 2 years without his presence and are at the moment not "scared" by the Tiger factor. though if he keeps winning then this may change. I also may have to eat some "Don" humble pie if he wins a Major this year.

    Roll on Lytham to see if there is any proof in the pudding !!

  • Comment number 99.

    Tiger will not win. His Major days are over.

  • Comment number 100.

    Where is BMG.......

 

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