Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A chink in Tiger's armor?

I’ve got to admit that my curmudgeonly side got the best of me during final round coverage of The Barclays. When Tiger Woods hit his second shot into 18 a mere six feet – 10 inches from the hole, the entire CBS broadcast team went into rapture. I was waiting for David Feherty to tell Woods his putt was conceded and let’s go to the sudden death playoff, which of course Woods would win. Then they could fall all over each other trying to bore viewers with hyperbole over hyperbole.

Woods then proceeded to do the unthinkable. He missed. He didn’t even scare the cup. Then to add insult to injury, Heath Slocum won the event on the 72nd green by holing a 20-foot putt for the biggest win of his modest career. Then all they could talk about was how Slocum vaulted from 124th to third place in the FedEx Cup point standings.

Hey guys! No one and I mean no one cares. All the FedEx Cup has managed to do is extend interest in the Tour past the PGA Championship.

Heaven forbid, the CBS clan would hint at what has become one of the biggest, if not the biggest story of the year. Tiger Woods has become beatable. Where once conceding that putt would have been on everyone’s mind. It’s no longer the case. Missing the cut at Turnberry, putting like a rag doll in the final round of the PGA Championship and the Barclay’s debacle have become commonplace occurrences. He just doesn’t lose his touch for a hole or two; it’s now for a tournament at a time.

One could surmise that Tiger isn’t crazy about it either. His visible and I would imagine vocal emanations would reflect it.

In a way, this syndrome is reminiscent of what Tom Watson went through. Always a fearless putter, Watson would either make his birdie putt, or knock it seven feet past the hole. That was okay, because he knew he’d make the comebacker. Tiger has always been the same way.

The day came when Watson didn’t make the par putt. Then there was another and another and another. Although there were extenuating circumstances at the time which have since been remedied, it gave credence to my belief that there are just so many putts in a pair of hands and Watson had run through his supply. This may be the start of a similar syndrome for Tiger.

He may go on to win the last three playoff tournaments and people will forget his shortcomings, but he won’t. He’s the one person who knows, make that feels the seepage of the confidence that is the trademark of his putting stroke.

No doubt, he is licking his chops at the prospect of having Pebble Beach and St. Andrews on tap for the US and British Opens in 2010, but now there is a crack in his wall of invincibility.

His goal of 19 professional majors, once considered a tap in, is getting longer and the last thing Tiger needs is a tougher putt.

Bartender, I think we’ll pass this week. You do dispense fabulous swing oil, but that stuff can make a putting stroke, shall we say a tad jittery. Thanks anyway.

See you on the first tee,


No comments: