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"It's hard to imagine the old Tiger embracing excuses or mediocrity."

Even though Tiger Woods just missed a cut in his first start back, acted surprised at the difference between Bermuda and cool season grasses, and has no plans to get more tournament “reps” between now and The Open Championship, he’s currently still listed at a generous 20-1 for Royal Liverpool.

We debated some key points on Morning Drive today with Gary Williams and Damon Hack (not posted) and it's pretty clear to anyone who is a Tiger-the-golfer fan: the fire just isn't there. To be feeling better and have the major he could so easily win because of his creativity, ability to handle the wind and epic performance there last time and not to be taking it seriously suggests Tiger just doesn't quite care like he used to. He loves his adorable kids, loves his yacht and it's summertime! What's not to love if you're him? Oh right, practicing and preparing for links golf.

Remember, he's been on the national stage nearly 20 years now and there's only so long the fire can burn. I don't begrudge him. He gave us many great years and he'll have a few more runs in him, but to be supposedly feeling great and to go on vacation after his Congressional play suggests he just doesn't care like he used to. Doesn't make him a bad person, it just mean's he's not the Tiger we used to know.

Robert Lusetich addressed the many oddities of Tiger's performance at Congressional and the defeatist comments after, which included blaming grass types for his rusty short game.

Felt great and shot a 4-over-par 75 -- Tiger's New Math.

There will be those who feel it's too harsh to criticize a golfer coming off a three-month layoff and especially one coming off back surgery.

But this is the great Tiger Woods we're talking about, not some journeyman, and it's hard to imagine the old Tiger embracing excuses or mediocrity.

And remember that Woods insisted in May that the time off recuperating from surgery was a blessing, as it had allowed him time to work on his short game.

Except that his short game at Congressional was as horrible as it's ever been.

Woods only got up-and-down on three of 16 missed greens.

Imagine if he hadn't worked on his short game.

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Reader Comments (45)

I want the old Tiger back!!
Tiger's body is slowly breaking down after pounding hundreds of thousands of, he's not a machine after all.

Is that the point of the post? That he's not into it these days because he feels his back and knee's seizing up?

On the basis of one tournament after a three month lay-off which involved going under the knife?

Come back to us this time next year.
07.1.2014 | Unregistered Commentermehstg
20/1 ? ....... best I can find in the UK is 12/1
07.1.2014 | Unregistered CommenterJock
I'm with mehstg.
A more reasonable timetable for comeback is 3 months for recovery and rehab from the operation, then 3 months additional to reclaim his golf to somewhere near the level previous to his injury.
Maybe his comments reflect this. Maybe his attitude at 6 or 9 months postop will be different.
He has been a super golfer, but is not Superman when it comes to healing. This is nothing new. Look at the prolonged recoveries of Peyton Manning and RG3.
07.1.2014 | Unregistered Commentergov. lepetomane
This is about the 100th time Lusetich ice has written the same column. Tiger doesn't care as much as he used to, look at his lame excuses.

And guys he's 3 months out from backnow surgery, my guess is that one of the conditions for being allowed to play last week was taking it easy this week.

He wasn't ready to compete at Congo, he said as much pre tournament, he looked it. Give home some time, then see what happens. 2011 would be a decent guideline.
07.1.2014 | Unregistered Commenterelf
Tiger is 12-1 or 20-1 because betting is emotion and bookies want to make some money, the odds reflect only that.. Tiger good in the wind? That's his Achilles - foul weather of any kind. The old Tiger is gone forever, don't tell me he won 5 times last year, it's irrelevant. He has lost every single advantage he ever had.

Go ahead, call me a racist. Call me a hater.

Father time is the winner of this battle.
07.1.2014 | Unregistered CommenterBill V
I'm reminded of the old Paul Simon song Slip Sliding Away... You know the nearer your destination, the more you slip sliding away. Tiger's life has never been about balance. This latest phase is a reflection of that. The pendulum is swinging away from the all consuming preparation and focus of his early career. Few great golfers can do it all... have a quality life and still win major championships, Nicklaus being the best at it. I think Tiger will play much better at the Open, but he's not going to win. If in his mind he believes 18 majors are nearly impossible given his physical state, I think he loses his motivation. And so we're seeing the greatest golfer of his generation slip sliding away.
07.1.2014 | Unregistered CommenterTroglodyte
What's funny is that if Tiger were playing the Greenbrier and then jetting off to Scotland to play, everyone would be bludgeoning him for not having learned anything about his body, coming back too soon, risking re-injury, and generally being a knucklehead. He can't please everyone--no, correction--he can't please ANYONE. Tiger's just a piñata of criticism at this point.
07.1.2014 | Unregistered CommenterNoVa Wahoo
I'd rather have John Daly back to his old self. Much more fun.
I'm not remotely a Tiger fan, but I'm even less of a fan of a lame piece of writing like Lucetich's. Tiger had back surgery earlier in the year and "recovered" in time to enter his own tournament -- a tribute to his father's military service. His children need dad time, and he is in the middle of his nth swing change to minimize the wear and tear on his aging body. Why would any reasonable person expect him to sound and act like a 25-year-old ultimate fight club warrior?

He sounds and acts a lot more like Nicklaus, Watson, and Els, all of whom had plenty of good golf left in them at Tiger's age.
07.1.2014 | Unregistered Commenter3foot1
"He wasn't ready to compete at Congo, he said as much pre tournament, he looked it"

What press conference did you attend elf?
When Tiger wins a major this year, all you yahoo's can laugh at yourself. Tiger had tremendous amount of freedom in his golf swing last week, he hadn't practiced and prepared enough. Did you also realize what score won the tourney? Folks wake up, that wasn't the Disney event. Butch's swing, snapping the left knee at impact took a toll on his body, but he got results. That is all you focus on, what have you done for me lately! Was 08' Torrey worth it???
07.1.2014 | Unregistered CommenterPool Boy
I'm hopeful that maybe this 'new attitude' is a positive sign. Isn't it also possible that he has low expectations (for obvious reasons) for this season? If so, doesn't it follow that his 'lack of fire' is really just him understanding his own limitations so soon after surgery? Maybe he's being realistic and thinking long term here. If that's the case, it's exactly what many had hoped he would happen if he did come back early. Personally, I had hoped he'd just take the year off and come back healthy next year.
07.1.2014 | Unregistered CommenterDsl
As time moves on different priorities enter your life. It is hard for the viewing public to accept that the greatest golfer they'll ever see is not "giving it his all."
This is no different then anyone else. I'm 27 years old. What was important to me at 21 was very different then now. I can't imagine when I'm 38 how different I'll be from today. Then take into account the money, publicity, fame, etc and this "burnout" is easy to spot from a mile away.

The golf media had their cash cow for two decades, now it's time to latch on to something else.

@PoolBoy I'll give you some really juicy odds that Tiger won't win a major this year. Name your price.
07.1.2014 | Unregistered CommenterChicago John
Geoff is right, this day was coming. He's a person not a robot, and that doesn't make him a bad person.
Chicago, I agree with you, I'm 41 and the priorities I had at 25, 30 and 35 are far different than they are today. As you get older and have a family, you realize your family and the time you spend with them is all that matters. So maybe he sees his children out for the summer and wants to spend some time with them while they are out of school. If thats the case, that would make me a Tiger fan more than winning.
07.1.2014 | Unregistered Commenter@sevethecomm
No, "it doesn't make him a bad person". On that we will all agree. But the excuses are just so lame. The man has no capacity for candor in his golf or his life. I continue to find that offensive.
07.1.2014 | Unregistered CommenterPasaplayer
"....he he won 5 times last year, it's irrelevant."

Really? How do you figure?
07.1.2014 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
@Pasa, I agree that he has no capacity for candor, but why is it offensive? Annoying, disappointing, revealing, ok, but I don't get the offensive part. TW doesn't owe me anything in the candor dept.
Tend to agree with those who say the best days are done due to physical wear and tear. Mentally, maybe the strongest ever, but that too begins to fade as the years pass. Thankfully, I'm on the DTT program and am unaffected - Distance Through Technology.
07.1.2014 | Unregistered Commentermeefer
@DTF, I had the same initial reaction to the "it's irrelevant" comment. But upon further review, I think it makes sense.

Tiger's 5 wins are irrelevant regarding this statement: "The old Tiger is gone forever" depending on how one defines 'The old Tiger.'

If OldTiger is the one from 2000 (or even from 2007 to 2009), he is gone and he's not coming back. Of course that likely would have been true without the fire hydrant and without the knee and back surgeries because it would be insane to think that any player could continue to play like that (it's rather insane to think that his performance in 2000 could have happened at all, actually).
07.1.2014 | Unregistered CommenterCarl Peterson
Very little to do with his pounding 1000's of balls and that leg snapping move. His old move was freer and stressed his back less. He used to aggressively close the clubface under Butch. Now with that shut face block move...he has to hold on for dear life through impact. That adds stress btw.

Blame the NFL and military-style workout addiction he had...or still has. It's not's swinging a 10-14oz stick at a ball. Big muscles aren't that necessary. Longevity is the goal. Lean long and flexible abductor muscles will keep one playing and swinging well for the long haul.
07.1.2014 | Unregistered CommenterJohnnnycz
Two words for to Tiger to be scared of: Patrick Reed
07.1.2014 | Unregistered CommenterV60golfrrrrr
He did ok for comng back too soon, or early, as it were.

As to the future, all it would take is that one shot, that one really special hole to inspire him, if he is in good enough health to compete.

Is he? No one really knows- don't think even he knows.
07.1.2014 | Unregistered Commenterdigsouth
Seve was done with majors after 1988. Tiger was done with majors in 2008.
What does the future hold - who knows?
But these posts that say: "the best we'll ever see" and "mentally, possibly the best ever" are complete nonsense. The yardstick EVERYONE has always used is majors - until he catches or passes Jack, it's not even a conversation for 'the best'
As far as mentally - no chance. Since the passing of his father he's steadily been coming unwound with some obvious disasters that he has never fully recovered from. He's not even mentally tough enough to control his spitting, club throwing and swearing in front of the fans. He says stuff like "the media have no idea what it takes to play the game at this level." What??? half of the guys he hates did play on tour before getting into media, plus it's not rocket science - get the ball in the hole in the least number of strokes.
His search for a swing and constant reliance on a coach, has made him almost a headcase who seems lost and confounded out on the course sometimes.
There's probably dozens of guys who are above him in the 'mental toughness category' in the history of this game.
07.1.2014 | Unregistered CommenterPress Agent
@ Johnnycz +1

It's hard for me to think of his career without what if-ing.
Without regarding the excessive bulk acquisition and caddy changes, I've always felt there were 2 big mistakes:
1. getting married
2. ditching Butch Harmon.
Had he not done those moves I think he might much closer to that magic number of majors Nicklaus posted. That he accomplished so much in spite of those decisions is pretty impressive.
Just my opinion, no way to actually prove it; and accepted that there are counter-arguments.
07.1.2014 | Unregistered Commentergov. lepetomane
A pivotal moment in golf history that no one talks about. YE YANG beats Tiger. A NOBODY takes down the best in the world.

BUT Patrick Reed is no YE YANG. so dont even go there.
07.1.2014 | Unregistered Commenterv60golfer
And YE Yang was before F Hydrant, when his world changed forever.
07.1.2014 | Unregistered CommenterPasaplayer
I wrote this on this site in June 2006, after Tiger MC'd at Winged Foot: Players of Tiger's high-energy type, who have to rely on creativity, will-power and a superb short game for their powerful but sometimes erratic long games to prevail, burn out quickly. Palmer won his last major at 34, Watson at 33, Ballesteros at 31. Low-energy players like the Nicklaus type, who think and plod their way around the golf course, have more mileage in them. I first thought I might have been wrong, after Tiger's great play from mid-´06 to ´08, but it's becoming more and more obvious that Torrey indeed was the climax of his marvellous career.
07.1.2014 | Unregistered CommenterHawkeye
No excuses allowed. And there's no middle ground when you're this close. You either want it, or you don't.

Suggested reading for Tiger: Hogan - By Curt Sampson. Especially the chapters after the crash.
07.1.2014 | Unregistered CommenterD. maculata
The stones on all of you...absolutely incredible. Guy isnt even allowed an opportunity to test his ability after surgery? When youre not able to get out of bed because of back pain, hitting a golf ball 320 yards several times during his first event back is an incredible VICTORY. Dont let anyone tell you different. Most of you here are so blinded by nonsense you cant think straight. Very sad, boys.
07.1.2014 | Unregistered CommenterEnigma
Particularly galling the musings of the "Press Agent", to wit.. "
There's probably dozens of guys who are above him in the 'mental toughness category' in the history of this game", fair enough, but theres only one guy in the history of the game with a better record. Go get help with whatever youve got.
07.1.2014 | Unregistered CommenterEnigma
Tiger is not done yet. He will get the game back as long as he has the drive.
I am a bit worried that he is feeling healthy, yet going on vacation with his children instead of training. That's not something any high performance athlete would do in preparation for an event. However, I actually like his optimistically delusional attitude towards the game. He might not be applying more unnecessary pressure on himself for the majors now.
His work ethic has clearly deteriorated. How can you be one of the best short game players of all time, only work on short game for a few months, and have 12% scrambling and -1.3 strokes gained putting? That is disgraceful. I would do better!
Anyways, he obviously won't be the most well prepared player for The Open, but he's still Tiger. That's about all that needs to be said.
07.1.2014 | Unregistered CommenterART
Press Agent,

Gotta agree with Enigma. That was a foul ball.
07.1.2014 | Unregistered CommenterLouis Friend
Name the player before Tiger or "since" Tiger who just kicked everybody's ass for years. Until there's a "since" or an "after" all of the whining, arrow-slinging and body building asides are nothing more than empty words. Look at the mutts atop the money list. Who are they scaring? Who are they staring down? Episodic grinders at best.
07.1.2014 | Unregistered Commentertlavin
"Episodic grinders." Love it.
07.1.2014 | Unregistered CommenterSari
Clearly Eldrick is a once-a-generation phenom. On to the next generation...
07.1.2014 | Unregistered CommenterPasaplayer
38 ain't old. Even bubble butt 48 year old tiger could win two majors in a year.
He's for the right frame of mind to play 12 more years competitively. By takin it easy
07.1.2014 | Unregistered CommenterTim
Tim, where have you been the last five years? He's in no frame of mind to win any majors; he knows that we know just how flawed he is, and that will end his chances even if he could summon the physical discipline to prepare himself to contend. Which he obviously prefers not to do but rather rely on excuses until, even to him, they won't be credible. He's toast. Move on.

07.1.2014 | Unregistered CommenterPasaplayer
" half of the guys he hates did play on tour before getting into media"

1) Who. Didn't know there were a bunch of former tour players in the media

I guess I'm thinking print not just talking heads on tv.

I do know that NONE of the media that did play ever approached what Tiger did on golf courses though.

I do agree that Nicklaus, as well as Hogan showed great mental discipline and toughness.
Tiger had more determination and focus than anyone I ever saw or played against.
Remains to be seen if that focus can return enough to reach his own standards
07.1.2014 | Unregistered CommenterOffered

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