#AskLav: Tiger's event caps newsy week


Some week, huh?

Wunderkind Rory McIlroy authored his latest improbable feat, a five-birdie flourish in Dubai on Sunday that capped a remarkable 2012 season.

And the governing bodies announced that they were banning the anchored stroke, beginning in 2016.

And now we are in the midst of The Last Q-School, or at least the last one that provides direct access to the PGA Tour.

Compelling stuff, all of it.

Oh, almost forgot.

Tiger Woods is making his final start of this season. In his own event.

Some week, huh?

I know, I know: His 18-man hit-and-giggle, which begins Thursday at Sherwood CC, won’t alter the professional landscape (even if it does offer world ranking points). But the man still moves the needle like no other player in the sport. For any dimplehead, this still represents must-see TV.

So here are your questions for this week’s all-Tiger #AskLav mailbag:

@RyanLavnerGC Do you think Tiger is concerned about his world ranking or is a major his major focus? i.e does he care about being #1? #AskLav

Tiger turns 37 next month – and he will be an old 37, too, after undergoing four knee operations and injuring his Achilles tendon. His sole focus – as it has been since childhood – is catching Jack Nicklaus. That helps explain why he’s not interesting in taking up European Tour membership in 2013, or beyond. Majors are what turn a good year into a great year. They define careers. So if Tiger continues to play well and win majors, then everything he can’t physically control – world rankings, money titles, awards, etc. – will take care of itself.

#AskLav Tiger's increasingly mechanical swing technique seems to cost short game & putting feel. Can he ever meld feel & mechanics again?

A major issue to address this offseason will be his wedge game: In 2012, Woods was 140th on Tour in approaches from 75-100 yards. (McIlroy, it should be noted, was even worse: 189th.) And Tiger wasn’t much better from 125-150 yards, ranking 111th. That will be improved upon, guaranteed.

#asklav why do guys like Faldo an Norman honestly think tiger has no/slim chance to get to 18 an beyond? Haters gonna hate?

To address your latter question: They’re entitled to their opinion, of course. Is there some deep-rooted jealousy because Woods is closer to 18 majors than they ever were? Perhaps. But these are two of the best players of the past 30 years. We absolutely should seek out and value their insights, even if we disagree.

#AskLav Reflecting back - does he attribute his fall from dominance more to the scandal or health problems. In short, mental or physical?

Injuries have played the most significant factor in the past few years, and in 2012, when fully healthy for the first time in years, we saw what Tiger is still capable of producing: three wins, nine top 10s, $6.13 million in earnings. That said, observers hold their breath each time Tiger takes a vicious hack out of the rough, or assumes an awkward stance in a bunker. Remember, he is always one swing away from heading back to the disabled list. 

What would Tiger need to do next season, to be able to consider it as 'successful'? #AskLav

Three or four victories, including a major. Tiger is winless in the Big Ones since 2008, and consider next year’s major championship venues: He hasn’t won at Augusta since 2005; has never seen Merion; was blown away on Day 3 at Muirfield in ’02 and struggled mightily at Oak Hill in ’03, shooting 12 over par. No doubt, another year of oh-fers in the majors, at age 37, would significantly hurt his chances of scaling Mount Nicklaus.

@RyanLavnerGC #AskLav will Tiger be hitting the new red driver this weekend?

Not this weekend, not this week. Suzann Pettersen may have put the new red-crowned Nike driver in play at the LPGA’s season finale, but Woods won’t follow suit in his final event of 2012. Maybe Abu Dhabi?


Just a guess, but the red pants Tiger wore at the Ryder Cup were probably horrifying enough.