Maybe Tiger Wasnt Really Just Tiger
Maybe it was all just an anomaly.
He won 17 times in those two years - 19 if you count the worldwide wins - and four majors. Thats an unbelievable accomplishment. We (Im counting myself here, too) looked at those two years and extrapolated it out for the rest of his career Nicklaus major record would surely fall; so would Sneads all-time win mark. Tiger was still young, his prime years were still far in the future, and he was mowing them down at roughly one win every two tournaments.
So what happened? Tigers last three years have been great by modern-golfer standards ' 16 wins, roughly a 1-to-3.5 win ratio. But they havent been the once-in-history type statistics that we had come to assume they would be. He may yet challenge Nicklaus and Snead, but its going to be considerably more difficult at this pace.
There have been any number of amateurs such as myself giving any number of reasons: the decision to stop seeing Butch Harmon; his relationship with girlfriend-fiancee; his friendship with Mark OMeara; a supposed stubbornness which manifests itself in a do-it-my-way attitude.
Neither I nor anyone else can speak definitely to the reasons ' if there has to be a reason. Here, though, for the record is what the man himself has had to say in chats with the media this year:
MERCEDES CHAMPIONSHIPS ' You know, people don't realize how many lucky breaks I was getting (in 99 and 2000.) I hit so many bad shots that turned out great. I can tell you, there were three shots I hit at St. Andrews (in the British Open) that should have been in the bunkers. Either bounced out, got a good kick off the knob, went around the bunker. Firestone (NEC), when I played well (a 61 on Friday in 2000), I hit a couple balls in the trees, (they) kicked back out into the fairway, made birdies on both of them. Good things were happening. I was just taking advantage of absolutely every single opportunity.
The problem isnt Harmon or OMeara or his fiance, he insists. As much as anything, it was the painful knee injury that he had surgically corrected at the end of 2002.
MERCEDES (CON'T) ' The more the knee hurt (in 2002), the more I'd have to make alterations in the swing to try and basically make solid contact. The more alterations I made, the more distance I lost, because I was actually moving away from the ball a lot, slowing down, trying not to make it hurt. I definitely had to work on it to try to get out of it. Then the problem was that I had limited (practices) for about four or five months after I came back, started playing. I really couldn't work out there for hours upon hours on my game to try and eliminate the flaws. I had to spend less time and be more focused on what I was doing, try and get out of it that way.
If you take his word as gospel, he is on the verge of breaking out to another year like 2000-2001:
MASTERS TOURNAMENT - As I say, I'm pretty close. I didn't make any putts this week, at all. Any putt that I had within 10 feet for birdie, I didn't make them, and you have to make those. I'm hitting well on the golf course. I just hit a couple bad shots on this golf course. I didn't mean to do that.
PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP ' I didn't think I played that poorly. I made nothing starting out. I put myself in position to make putts and I made nothing, and then towards the end I made a few putts to keep me where I'm at right now. I'm hitting quality golf shots and then I'm either not converting the putts when I'm hitting them close to get some kind of possible momentum, or when I hit a poor shot, it just seems to be in a position where it's very difficult to make par.
BAY HILL INVITATIONAL' The things I'm working on are starting to come together. I get up there and I hit shots like I did most of this week off the tees - the problem, as I said yesterday, my bad shots, I'm making bogeys, double; I'm in water or out-of-bounds or something like that, unplayable shots. If I can get my misses a little bit more under control, then I should be all right.
DUBAI DESERT CLASSIC' Just trying to get my consistency right day in and day out, trying to get the club in the right position day in and day out so that a bad round is not over par. So that is when you struggle and havent played your best but you shoot 69, and then when you do play well you shoot that low score. Its not about how good the good days are ' everyone out here can shoot low numbers - its how bad your bad days.
ACCENTURE MATCH PLAY - I know what I'm doing. It's a matter of stopping it. I can do it on the range pretty good. It's with irons, too. It's with all clubs. If I get the club down in front of me, I get stuck. My hips outrace my arms and the club gets behind me. It's not that my arms drop behind me, it's that my body outraces my arms. If I can slow my body down and get my arms down faster, I can hit the ball decent.
And at the end of last year
FUNAI CLASSIC 03 ' This year has been one of those years where I have won one-third of my tournaments. People say I have had a terrible year I still don't understand why people look at it that way. Granted I didn't win a major championship this year, that's disappointing. I tried. I had my chances.
He certainly didnt have a terrible year. This year has certainly not been a terrible year ' not if you are talking about an Ernie Els or a Vijay Singh or a Davis Love.
It hasnt been Tiger 2000, however. But maybe that guy is long gone. Maybe we were just dreaming when we believed he could keep it up for 15 more years. Did we assume too much? It appears so. Tiger, after all, may simply be Tiger ' and not some sort of golf god.
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Watch: Fleetwood gets emotional with family after Race to Dubai win
Tommy Fleetwood took home the season-long Race to Dubai title on Sunday after a T-21 finish at the DP World Tour Championship.
He was, understandably, emotional after learning his fate while sitting with his wife and baby following a career year in which he won the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship and the French Open and finished fourth at the U.S. Open.
Luckily for us, cameras were rolling:
Matsuyama after Koepka rout: 'Huge gap between us'
Hideki Matsuyama offered a blunt assessment after finishing 10 shots behind Brooks Koepka at the Japan Tour's Dunlop Phoenix event.
Koepka waxed the field en route to successfully defending his title in Japan, shooting a 20-under par total that left him nine shots clear of a runner-up group that included PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Xander Schauffele. Koepka's score was one shot off the tournament record, and his margin for victory eclipsed Tiger Woods' eight-shot romp in 2004.
Matsuyama appeared set to make a final-round charge after a birdie on No. 2 was followed by an ace on the par-3 third hole. But he played the next eight holes in 3 over and eventually finished alone in fifth place following a 2-under 69. Afterwards, he stacked his game up against that of Koepka in a telling comment to the Japan Times.
"I feel there's a huge gap between us," Matsuyama said.
The Japanese phenom entered the week ranked No. 4 in the world, though he will be passed in the next rankings by Jon Rahm following the Spaniard's win in Dubai. Matsuyama won twice this year on the PGA Tour, including the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, but he has largely struggled since missing out on a maiden major title at the PGA Championship, where he tied for fifth.
Matsuyama was a runner-up to Koepka at the U.S. Open earlier this summer, and the 25-year-old seems headed back to the drawing board before defending his title at the Hero World Challenge in two weeks.
"I don't know whether it's a lack of practice or whether I lack the strength to keep playing well," Matsuyama said. "It seems there are many issues to address."
McCormick to caddie for Spieth at Aussie Open
When Jordan Spieth returns next week to defend his title at the Australian Open, he will do so without his regular caddie on the bag.
Spieth and Michael Greller have combined to win 14 tournaments and three majors, including three events in 2017. But Greller's wife, Ellie, gave birth to the couple's first child on Oct. 13, and according to a report from the Australian Herald Sun he will not make the intercontinental trip to Sydney, where Spieth will look to win for the third time in the last four years.
Instead, Spieth will have longtime swing coach and native Aussie Cameron McCormick on the bag at The Australian Golf Club. McCormick, who won PGA Teacher of the Year in 2015, is originally from Melbourne but now lives in Texas and has taught Spieth since he was a rising star among the junior golf ranks in Dallas.
While Greller has missed rounds before, this will be the first time as a pro that Spieth has used a different caddie for an entire event. Greller was sidelined with an injury last year in Singapore when Spieth's agent, Jay Danzi, took the bag, and trainer Damon Goddard has subbed in twice when Greller was sick, including this year at the Dean & DeLuca Invitational.
Spieth's torrid 2015 season traced back to his win at The Australian in 2014, and he returned to Oz last year where he won a playoff at Royal Sydney over Cameron Smith and Ashley Hall.
Rahm wins finale, Fleetwood takes Race to Dubai
Jon Rahm captured the final tournament on the European Tour calendar, a result that helped Tommy Fleetwood take home the season-long Race to Dubai title.
Rahm shot a final-round 67 to finish two shots clear of Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Shane Lowry at the DP World Tour Championship. It's the second European Tour win of the year for the Spaniard, who also captured the Irish Open and won on the PGA Tour in January at the Farmers Insurance Open.
"I could not be more proud of what I've done this week," Rahm told reporters. "Having the weekend that I've had, actually shooting 12 under on the last 36 holes, bogey-free round today, it's really special."
But the key finish came from Justin Rose, who held the 54-hole lead in Dubai but dropped back into a tie for fourth after closing with a 70. Rose entered the week as one of only three players who could win the Race to Dubai, along with Sergio Garcia and Fleetwood, who started with a lead of around 250,000 Euros.
With Fleetwood in the middle of the tournament pack, ultimately tying for 21st after a final-round 74, the door was open for Rose to capture the title thanks to a late charge despite playing in half the events that Fleetwood did. Rose captured both the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open, and was one round away from a two-trophy photo shoot in Dubai.
Instead, his T-4 finish meant he came up just short, as Fleetwood won the season-long race by 58,821 Euros.
The title caps a remarkable season for Fleetwood, who won the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship as well as the French Open to go along with a pair of runner-up finishes and a fourth-place showing at the U.S. Open.
"I find it amazing, the season starts in November, December and you get to here and you're watching the last shot of the season to decide who wins the Race to Dubai," Fleetwood said at the trophy ceremony. "But yeah, very special and something we didn't really aim for at the start of the year, but it's happened."