Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Is Bear Hunting Season Over?
Tiger Woods had better hustle if he wants to catch the Bear. What seemed like only a matter of "when" after Tiger captured his 14th major championship in 2008 has now become a matter of "if" after a 2 year drought, multiple affairs and time off, and a missed cut in his second tournament back. Tiger sits 4 major championships behind Jack Nicklaus and golf immortality. While the window is still open for Tiger to take over, if this weekend was any indication of the future, it is closing quickly.
In 2008 at the age of 32, Tiger Woods won his 14th major championship by out-dueling Rocco Mediate for the U.S. Open Championship in an 18 hole playoff at Torrey Pines. Playing on a torn ACL all week, Tiger churned out one of the gutsiest performances ever recorded in all of sports. Though he would have to take the rest of the year off, it seemed inevitable that Tiger would soon eclipse Jack Nicklaus for the most major golf championships. 2 years later though, we are still waiting for number 15.
In the 2 years since that last glorious championship, Tiger Woods has gone through the ringer. He went o' fer in 2009, including a losing to Asian man Y.E. Yang in the PGA Championship even though Tiger had the 54 hole lead (a lead he had never relinquished prior). Then we all know what happened after that. Tiger is back now, but will he ever be able to catch the Bear? It is not looking good at the moment, as Tiger missed the cut with an unheard of 7 over 79 in round 2 of the Quail Hollow Championship last week. As if that wasn't reason enough to question Tiger's run at the record, now the young guns are coming.
While Tiger was trying to find his game this past weekend, two things happened that could put an end to his run at Jack Nicklaus. First, 20 year old Rory McIlroy shot a final round 62 (a course record) at Quail Hollow to win his first tournament of his career. Secondly, 18 year old Ryo Ishikawa shot a final round 58 to win a tournament in Japan. These guys are considered to be two of the future stars in professional golf, and it looks like they have already arrived. You better watch out Tiger.
While the future might appear gloomy for Tiger, I personally think this is just a blip on the radar. At 34 years old Tiger still has plenty of time to catch Jack, who won 6 of his 18 majors after the age of 35. Tiger will no doubt find his game again and could start adding onto that major championship tally again by the end of this year. The events of this weekend should have him working twice as hard though.