SAN FRANCISCO – After sharing the 36-hole lead, Tiger Woods posted scores of 75-73 on the weekend to finish six off the pace. With at T-40 at the Masters and a T-21 at the U.S. Open, we ask: Will Woods win a major championship in 2012?
By JASON SOBEL
Will Tiger Woods win a major this year? Well, it all depends...
Which Tiger are we talking about here? The cool, calm, confident dude who grabbed a share of the 36-hole lead at the U.S. Open? Or the Tiger who ballooned on the weekend, getting lapped by playing partners and amateurs and a cornucopia of unknowns?
What’s that? They’re the same guy? Oh, well in that case, my mind is made up.
Winning major championships takes talent, sure, but it also takes patience and consistency. Woods’ recent Jekyll and Hyde routine has shown neither lately – and each of the next two venues will require those in droves.
At both Royal Lytham and Kiawah, weather could – and likely will – become a factor during the tournaments. Tiger has displayed a propensity for getting more frustrated with increasingly changing climate conditions, which certainly doesn’t bode well for his chances.
Can he win one of the remaining two? Yes, because he’s in the field. Technically, every competitor is a contender.
But will he? Based on what we’ve seen lately, the answer is no.
By REX HOGGARD
Sure, he tied for 21st at The Olympic Club, only a slight improvement over his tie for 40th at the Masters, and that third-round 75 at Olympic was not exactly the stuff that wins major championships. But given the venues and variables for the year’s final two Grand Slam gatherings we’ll take Tiger Woods and the percentages.
Those who think Woods won’t win major No. 15 haven’t been paying attention. Whether you like the new swing or not there is no debating its effectiveness. Even under pressure, U.S. Open pressure, Woods ranked sixth in fairways hit and seventh in greens in regulation on the Lake Course.
No, what cost Woods his fifth Open title was his putting. He needed 29, 31, 34 and 29 putts for Rounds 1 through 4, respectively, and ranked 61st in putting out of a field of 72 players who made the cut.
But the putting contest portion of the major championship window has passed. Wind and rain at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, site of this year’s British Open, and wind and heat at Kiawah Island, the PGA Championship venue, will keep green speeds at more reasonable levels and mitigate Woods’ short-game woes of late.
Woods lost the Masters and U.S. Open because of his putting, but it will be his ball-striking that will lift him to victory at the British Open or PGA.
By JAY COFFIN
Easy answer. No. In golf’s most important tests, Tiger Woods' game is still not consistent enough to capture glory.
He’s good enough to win events like Bay Hill and the Memorial, where all aspects of his game don’t have to be crisp to beat fields that are either less-than-stellar or not in major mode.
Take the Memorial for instance, Woods hit plenty of fairways and greens but his putting was horrendous. He tied for 42nd in putting, which is good enough to win a Tour event, but not a major. Also that week, the game’s biggest names – Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson, etc. – were not interested in giving their best effort.
Here at The Olympic Club, Woods drove the ball well again, but his distance control on iron shots inside 125 yards was atrocious. His putting wasn’t great either. All aspects must click for major glory.
Another rationale is the two venues, Royal Lytham & St. Annes for the British Open and Kiawah Island for the PGA Championship. I can’t imagine that weather will be great at either place, with wind being the most dangerous element.
If he does win a major it’ll be the British Open and it’ll be because he’s on the correct side of the draw with the weather. But I’m not counting on it this year. His game isn’t sharp enough.
By RANDALL MELL
If you are doubting Tiger Woods can win a major this year, your doubt is justified.
If you believe he can win one, your faith is justified, too.
We’ve seen reasons the last six months or so to doubt and believe, but I’m picking Tiger Woods to win the British Open at Royal Lytham & St. Annes next month.
As disappointing as his weekend free-fall was at the U.S. Open, Woods is on a rising-and-falling learning curve of late that ought to have him on the upswing again going to the British Open.
Woods is putting important pieces back together, pieces good enough to win, as we saw at the Chevron World Challenge, the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the Memorial. Yes, between each of those wins, there have been setbacks, but look at his winning rebounds. Look at the way he held on at Bay Hill, the way he finished off a Muirfield Village.
You can look at Woods’ performance at The Olympic Club and see weaknesses under pressure in his game, the troubling wedge play and chipping, and his less than dependable putting. You can also step back and see the upwardly mobile trend this season, the general overall improvement.
Woods may never be the dominant player he was, but if Webb Simpson can shake off a sluggish start this year and win, if Jim Furyk and Ernie Els can bounce back from swoons to contend again, there’s no reason Woods can’t summon what it takes to win a major again.