Tiger Woods finished his 2014 Open Championship an hour and a half before eventual winner Rory McIlroy teed off. In that moment, the Tiger Woods Era of golf officially ended.
Over the weekend, lead Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee said, “There was a beginning of his career, middle of his career, and this is the end of his career, no question about it. And if you want to qualify ‘era’ as dominance, then the Tiger era is over, and we’ll never see it again.”
Of the players that made the cut, only three finished with worse scores than Woods. This was not a surprise. Woods is just three months removed from back surgery. Nobody expected anything from him coming into the Open.
But when Woods shot a three-under 69 to start the event, people suddenly started thinking that maybe Woods had a shot at contending. That quickly changed on the first hole of his second round. He pulled his drive left, chunked his second shot across the first fairway into more rough, hit his third shot over the green, then left his fourth short, and two-putted for a double-bogey six. It didn’t get much better from there. Woods struggled with driver all day and barely made the cut.
While Woods tried to figure out his driver, McIlroy ran away from the field.
“I’d say this was a coup d’etat by self-immolation,” said Chamblee on TV. “We’re talking about a guy who has wilfully dismantled a golf swing that made him the best player in the world. Saying ‘I want to get better’ is one thing. But most people say that because, well, they’re not good enough, and they’re not the best. Well, he was the best, and he wilfully dismantled the golf swing that made him the best player in the world.”
Chamblee isn’t the only talking head in golf who thinks the Tiger Era died this weekend.
At Golf.com, a roundtable of writers all agreed. Eamon Lynch a Golf.com put it best, saying, “This point isn’t even worthy of debating. It’s demonstrably true that Tiger’s days as a dominant force are over, and not based solely on this week’s rusty performance. Dominance is measured in majors, and he hasn’t won one in six years.”
In golf, most people focus on the putting “yips”. That’s when a golfer gets nervous with short putts and either pushes or pulls their putts and can’t make anything. On the putting green, where it’s a touchy stroke, it makes sense to be nervous and have mental issues.
But there are driver yips, too. And Tiger has the yips with the driver. He doesn’t look comfortable with the club in his hand. He’s either pushing the ball way right or getting crossed up and pulling it left. Meanwhile, Bubba Watson, Rory McIlroy, Jason Dufner, and Adam Scott, are winning majors by confidently bombing the driver and then hitting easier clubs into the green.
Until Woods can fix that problem, he’s unlikely to win another major. And even when he does win another major, it will just be another major. It won’t be a part of the Tiger Era. That era is now over.
Tiger, even if he’s great again, is just another guy, according to golf’s smartest analysts.
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