by Jeff Skinner
It was a fast and furious week in golf as we saw some amazing golf and some great finishes throughout the golf world. Simon Dyson, Yani Tseng, Olin Browne and Scott Stallings supplied plenty of thrills last weekend and it doesn’t stop there.
Men’s golf heats up this week when Firestone Country Club hosts the top golfers at the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational. All the top players will be teeing it up and so will Tiger Woods.
With the Discovery Channel airing its ratings giant, Shark Week all this week I propose this question: Tiger Woods….Shark or Shark Bait?
There was a time when Woods owned all of golf. Players wilted and ran for cover when he stared them down. He was as intimidating as the jaws of a great white shark and he ate up his competition with shark like precision.
But that was then and this is now. That was when he was the shark. Woods is two and a half years removed from his last win at The Australia Masters. It has been over three years since he limped to victory over Rocco Mediate at the 2008 U.S. Open.
Tiger can no longer intimidate his opponents as he once did. Heck Scott Stallings and Keegan Bradley have more wins this year than Woods. The last time he played was at The Players where he quit after nine holes. He feels he is ready to come back here at Firestone.
That’s understandable as Woods has seven wins at Firestone and he can draw on those wins to try and get himself back into his old form. He used to be the perennial favorite at any tournament. Now he’s 28th in the official World Golf rankings, his lowest rank since 1997 when he first started hunting on the PGA Tour.
Tiger Woods, even a wounded, less than sharp Tiger is still the biggest draw in golf. And Woods likes to say that every time he tees it up he thinks he can win. This week he shows up on familiar ground but with an unfamiliar status in the game.
He used to be the big dog. He drove the bus. The golf world revolved around Tiger. Things have changed. There are players out there that have never played with Tiger at his best, and these guys are winning tournaments.
The next two weeks will tell much about Woods, much more than if his swing has suddenly reappeared, much more than if he is really healthy enough to play championship golf again. Tiger’s problems appear to be as much mental as physical.
The WGC this week and The PGA Championship next week will be tough tests for Woods. If he performs well he’ll no doubt feed off that and build from that success. But if he struggles he’ll feel more pressure and Tiger’s mental state appears far from what it used to be.
The next two weeks won’t define his career, far from it, but these two tournaments may just be critical enough to determine his comeback for the rest of the year.
He used to be the shark, but no longer, now he’s the bait.