by Jeff Skinner
It is still a bit too early in the golf season to call this week a “must win” for any professional golfer. That would be like saying week two in the NFL was a must win for the Green Bay Packers. But this week could be a critical week for Tiger Woods and his plan to get back among the world’s elite.
Woods is playing in Dubai this week, on a course that he has been extremely successful on. In five trips there he has five top five finishes and two wins. He won in 2006 and the last time he played in 2008. After a disappointing week on Torrey Pines, a course he has owned for all of his career, if he has another down week on a course he has dominated on it might be time to push the panic button.
Tiger has fallen to third in the World Rankings and is playing with number one, Lee Westwood and number two, Martin Kaymer. There will definitely be a bit of adrenaline flowing between the three of them. Tiger is as competitive as any athlete in the world and he has to relish the chance for him to put a beat down on his two closest competitors. At least the Tiger of old would have. Is this the Tiger of old? We have yet to see any of the old Tiger on the course this year but he thinks he is ready.
His goal this week is the same as it is at every tournament he plays in. “It’s still the same. It’s to win a golf tournament. Winning takes care of all that (the world rankings). That’s how I got to No. 1 in the world. That’s how I was able to sustain it, to win golf tournaments. That’s what Lee did to get to No. 1.”
“You have to play well. You’ve got to be consistent, but you also have to win. So the goal is still the same. It’s to go out there and win. I’ve been out here long enough to know that it’s all about sustainability. The guys who have been No. 1 when I’ve been out here, how they got there, they won golf tournaments.”
Woods has spent the off season retooling his swing with coach Sean Foley but has yet to show much progress on the course this year. Despite a lackluster trip at Torrey Pines he is sure he is getting close. “It was frustrating that I didn’t perform the way I know I could. I’ve been here before. It takes time to make these changes. You don’t make changes and just start winning a bunch of golf tournaments. It doesn’t work that way.”
He’s right, it does take time. But if Woods expects to be a force in golf again and regain his stature as the number one player, now would be a good time to start to show some progress. The longer he struggles, especially on courses that he has owned, the less significant he becomes. It may sound unbelievable but unless Tiger starts to put some good tournaments together he is on his way to becoming something that was unimaginable a short time ago: an average golfer.
Woods is certain he is on the path back to the top. He’s sure he can win and win big again. It’s time to show us some progress. Like he says, his goal is to win the golf tournament. This week should be a big week for Tiger. A win here would be huge but another poor performance and his season may just start to slip away.