First part of my US Open previews. I plan to hit on most of the major players and a few sleepers, time permitting. Also, I hope to come up with a good way to do live odds if I can figure out how to estimate the average hole scores.
Tiger Woods will tee it up at the US Open this week under quite different circumstances than his dominant win in 2000. Regardless, I can promise you we will see incessant reminders of his 15-stroke win, Johnny Miller’s constant calls for the utopian-three-wood stinger and probably even some broken leg highlights.
So, amidst all this crap, how do you value Tiger?
I think the first answer is throwout everything you’ve heard about Tiger. No coach, missed cuts, struggles, horrible swing, can’t find the fairway with a driver, mental problems, possible divorce. Doesn’t matter.
I’m not saying this to say that these factors don’t matter, I’m saying this because everyone in the media who is perpetuating them has absolutely ZERO idea with what is going on with Tiger. These were the same people that were SHOCKED as the Tiger rumors came out even though they were covering him for 12 years.
Here’s what we do know:
-Tiger is definitely struggling this year and it’s probably more than random. Given all those factors above and more importantly a six month layoff from golf, it’s perfectly legitimate to expect that Tiger’s poor play is meaningful.
-At no point in his career from 2002 has Tiger ever played this poorly over and extended period of time.
That leaves us with the delicate balance between past history and present. I’m guessing the how you want to value Tiger depends on how much value you put on the divorce/car wreck/hookers situation. For me, that boils down to 99% B.S.
I think the reason Tiger has struggled is that he didn’t pick up a golf club to do all that rehab garbage(worst career move ever). When you play at such an elite level like Tiger, it undoubtedly takes lots of time and practice to maintain. Take six months off(not to mention any limitations the neck injury put on him) and it’s going to affect your game. That being said, we have to expect Tiger to get closer to his potential as time passes.
There are two other factors I think are worth discussing. First, is Tiger’s putting. From what I’ve seen(certainly not every shot) he is lipping out on a ton of putts and coming close on long ones, but there not dropping at the rate of, say, Phil Mickelson. This is one area of golf that there is incredible variance with a huge importance to score. When you make a lot more than you should, you get a hot streak like Phil, when they don’t fall your play suffers. In the end, this stuff always seems to balance out.
The other factor is how much does Tiger change his approach to the game for a major. My rankings, as does the USGA’s handicapping system, assumes that everyone tries 100% on every shot. In most cases, I think this is fair. However, for elite golfers like Tiger and Phil, it’s possible that winning a major is way more meaningful to them then winning a regular tournament.
Tiger, it seems, wants to play the game a certain way hitting all kind of different shots. The past few weeks in regular events it seems he’s tried to play all these different kind of shots with limited success. It’s possible that Tiger uses this as a test for his game, and can hack together some band-aid approach to his game over a major that will look completely different. I have absolutely no proof of this theory, other than the casual observation that a regular tour event is basically meaningless to Tiger Woods at this point, and it was amazing how in 2008 Tiger was limited by a broken leg, but found one swing(huge cut) to hack it around Torrey Pines.
I think it’s going to boil down to the same thing I’ve been saying about Tiger since Augusta. By no means do I expect him to be 100% or win by 15 strokes, but I’ll be higher on Tiger than almost anyone else. Let’s just hope that Sunday red is in contention.