He dropped the ball again last week at Pebble Beach. He shot a 68 Sunday to tie for 12th, but he was never a threat to win. And once again, he didnt blame anyone but himself. He didnt mention the greens with a million different kinds of poa annua. No bleats about the weather or playing with amateurs or various physical elements, either real or perceived. No travel woes, no nothing but club woes. Once again, he simply didnt play well enough to win.
Ive got to admire that about Tiger. He hasnt won a full-field event here since early June of last year. Thats about eight months, but he hasnt once tried to blame anybody else. He has stepped right up and took the blame, never once passing it off when he certainly could have ' and a couple of times with justification.
This whole thing of subpar (for him) play started at the U.S. Open last year. Then, like now, he refused to whine about any unpleasantness sabotaging his play ' even when the excuse was laid out ever-so-neatly before him.
Question ' Butch (Harmon) had mentioned something about an injury. Anything to that?
Woods ' No. The only thing injured is my pride.
He was just as honest last week. Im not really hitting the ball too well, he said. Its as simple as that.
He was correct, of course ' he wasnt hitting it too well for Tiger Woods. Almost anyone else, it would certainly have been acceptable. But Tiger? He knows how he was playing in 1999 and 2000. And he knows that, up to now, his play hasnt been too Tigerish. What he hasnt tried to do is alibi.
Anybody who wants to do their best ' and is not able to do their best ' you are going to be disappointed in yourself. I am no different from anybody else in that regard. I tried as hard as I could.
It is tough sometimes when ' I guess when you are struggling and not really sure it is a challenge when you are not feeling that comfortable.
It wasnt necessarily energy. I wasnt swinging well. You could have all the energy in the world ' if you are not playing well, you are not playing well. I just wasnt hitting the ball crisp and solid.
You are not going to play well every week. I was disappointed I wasnt able to hit the ball the way I know I can. But its not the end of the world, either. Life goes on and I am going to go out there and try to do my best.
Woods is obviously baffled by his inability to get it done for four rounds. He almost always has at least one good round when the brilliance shines through, but he hasnt been able to do it for four. However, he gave a little insight into the world of professional golf once last summer, one in which he detailed the luck which must be involved in order to win just about any tournament.
I guarantee you, anybody who has won a tournament hasnt played all four days at the same level, he said. Everyday your body changes a little.
You may shoot ' people thought I was nuts when I shot a 63 at the Memorial and wasnt happy about it. To be honest, I really didnt hit the ball very well, but I made every putt I looked at. Next day, I go out and hit the ball beautifully and shot 65.
Whats the difference? Well, this is the way the game is. You are not going to have your best stuff everyday when you win. You are going to have to find a way to get the job done somehow. Golf is a game of misses. You have to go out there and miss the ball in the right spots.
Could it be that the ball bounced the right way for those two years, that maybe he is playing just as well as he was then? No ' but maybe he isnt that far behind, either. Maybe we just saw something extraordinary, something that transpired over a two-year time period, something that isnt about to happen again.
No one knows, of course. It was golf at the highest level ' or at least, luck at the highest level. Certainly it was a combination, but the golf was the bigger of the factors.
Tiger hasnt putted well since the end of the hot streak last June. That, in a nutshell, has been the problem. For those two years, he putted as well as anybody has in the history of golf.
Anything over 12 feet, though, is strictly luck - so the experts say. So maybe he is rolling it at roughly the same skill level, but just hasnt been meeting the same results.
At any rate, he isnt complaining about it. I find that so refreshing. Tiger, it appears, is wise beyond his 26 years.