So thorough was that domination, so supreme were his skills, that you had absolutely no doubt that he would win when St. Andrews rolled around.
Now, Tiger doesnt feel as overpowering. Theres no sense that this Open Championship is a fait accompli. Remember last year that the former major domo of the R&A, Sir Michael Bonnallack, said that if Tiger didnt prevail at St. Andrews there should be a stewards inquiry. Nobodys making such pronouncements this time.
The more legitimate reason is that the golf course doesnt set up to Tigers strengths the way St. Andrews did. Lythams a position layout. The Old Course was a bombers paradise. Lythams littered with nearly 200 bunkers. And if Tiger does as he did last year-play 72 holes without finding a single one-THEN there should be a stewards inquiry! Because the rough at Lytham is so severe and highly penal, accuracy off the tee will be paramount. Tigers able to hit his 2-iron as far as many guys hit their drivers, so perhaps in that sense hell gain a small edge, but certainly not a big one.
The second and less salient reason Tiger seems to be more beatable than a year ago is that in his last three starts he hasnt finished in the top 10. This is a fairly ludicrous measuring stick. Tigers certainly earned the right not to be micro-analyzed on every three-tournament interval in his career. Keep in mind that Tiger stood where no one else has ever stood in this sport, the one reserved for winners of four straight professional majors. He climbed Everest. And when you survive that expedition, you dont just go ahead and run a marathon. Tiger would never admit it because hes such a competitor, but he may have had a slam hangover. Somewhere, perhaps subconsciously, Tiger exhaled after winning The Masters.
My sense is that hell be recharged and ready to rumble at Lytham. Because of the vagaries of this particular course, I dont have a strong feeling either way as to whether or not hell win. But I fully expect hell factor in come Sunday afternoon.