Woods not concerned about shortcomings in 2012
- By Rex Hoggard
- Aug 30, 2012 3:08 PM ET
NORTON, Mass. – Tiger Woods’ tee shot had no sooner shattered the cool morning air at TPC Boston’s eighth hole on Thursday when a member of Camp Tiger whirled around with tongue firmly planted in cheek and announced, “He’s back.”
It’s a running joke in these parts defined by extremes. He was “gone” only compared to historic years in 2000 and 2006, and he’s returned only from the relatively pedestrian play of injury-plagued campaigns in 2009 and ’10. That few armchair analysts have much interest in the middle ground is likely what prompted the impromptu commentary so early on a pro-am Thursday.
Three victories and an injury-free summer should have settled the debate by now – he is as dominant as a 36-year-old on a rebuilt left leg and a third professional swing change ever has been.
Where others see another lost season, his fourth without a major to add to his haul of 14, Woods sees progress. Where some see weekend struggles, Woods sees the process.
“You can’t really look at it as a real bad year,” he said on Thursday at the Deutsche Bank Championship. “Most of the year I was leading the money list, I was No. 1 in FedEx Cup points and I won three times, so it’s not like it’s been that bad.”
But then perspective doesn’t come easy when it comes to Woods.
The drumbeat of doubt began at the Open Championship when he followed opening cards of 67-67 with 70-73. It was a similar week at the PGA Championship: 69-71 start, 74-72 finish. In fact, Woods hasn’t broken par on the weekend in three of his last four starts, and that doesn’t include his missed cut at the Greenbrier Classic in early July.
Some have interpreted this as weekend woes, which is backed up by his highest final-round scoring average (70.83) for a full season since 1999. But that analysis ignores his 68-66 on the weekend at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, or his 67-69 finish on his way to victory at his own AT&T National or that closing 67 for a “W” at the Memorial.
This isn’t about weekend swoons so much as it is the normal search for consistency that has defined his two previous swing changes as a professional.
Woods has broken par all four rounds in a Tour-sanctioned event just once (2012 Arnold Palmer Invitational) since he began working with Sean Foley before the 2010 PGA Championship, a run of 16 events.
By comparison, Woods went nine official events in 1997 after he and Butch Harmon began retooling his action before posting four “red” cards, and nine starts after he began working with Hank Haney in March 2004.
The criticism ignores his overall scoring average of 69.01, which leads the big leagues, and nearly career highs in total driving (fifth on Tour) and driving accuracy (41st). It dismisses the medical reality that the 36-year-old model is no longer bulletproof and injuries large and small – like the back ailment that made headlines at last week’s playoff opener in New York – are a greater part of the equation than they were in previous editions.
It seems certain that there is a part of Woods that is acutely aware of his weekend record, particularly at the majors. In his last three Grand Slam starts this season Woods was 11 under par in Rounds 1 and 2, and 13 over in Rounds 3 and 4 and he did not break par in a weekend round at a major in 2012.
But if stats like that are keeping him awake at night he didn’t let on Thursday at TPC Boston.
“It’s just a couple of rounds here and there or it’s an up-and-down here and there or it’s making one putt, so that’s a good thing,” he reasoned.
At Kiawah Woods attributed his poor Saturday showing (74) to a laissez faire approach to the round. “I was too relaxed, and tried to enjoy it, and that's not how I play. I play intense and full systems go,” he said at the time.
Given the uber-scrutiny that comes with unrealistically high expectations, the byproduct of 14 majors, perhaps a similarly relaxed level of analysis from those watching from the sidelines is in order.
Woods may keep time with the majors, but the rest of us don’t have that luxury.
“We’re all going to go through those lulls; you play the game long enough it’s going to happen,” Woods figured at the Deutsche Bank, which he won in 2006.
Woods wasn’t talking about his own plight, however. He was talking about Yani Tseng’s fortunes this year on the LPGA, but the message was universal.
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