The situation is becoming more and more familiar: the weekend of a Major swings around, Tiger Woods can't find his rhythm and finds himself at the bottom of a mountain of world class players.
Yet, the only thing that climbed at last week's U.S. Open on Sunday was his score; Woods finished at 13 over par. Faced with one of the toughest courses in recent Open history, Woods couldn't sink the putts he needed, couldn't drive the fairways necessary and, most annoying of all, couldn't keep himself healthy; it was obvious by the gritting of his teeth that whatever he had done to his elbow had become much more than a footnote.
Maybe he figured if he could win the 2008 open on one leg, he could win the 2013 open with one hand. If he did, he was very wrong.
The fact is today's Tiger (37) isn't the 32-year-old Tiger, and definitely isn't the 2000 Tiger.
And yet Woods deems it smart to load his schedule with eight events to date, and while he did win four of them (actually quite convincingly), his peaks aren't aligning with Major events, and for the world of golf, a Major is everything.
So almost identically to what happened at last year's US Open, the figure in red finished his final round just about the same time the leaders were beginning theirs.
His remarks afterwards were irritatingly positive, but from a different point of view, perhaps more deceiving of what he actually was feeling. The Tiger of old gave of an image of himself to the media, which never entirely aligned with what he actually thought. Perhaps the same is the case for last Sunday.
There's no denying the fact that he is not only the best golfer in the world, but perhaps even the greatest athlete of all time, and that he will win more majors.
But when Jack Nicklaus was wining his 15th, 16th majors, he was playing no more than six events a year.
Tiger must slow his schedule down, become more in tune with his body, figure out how to peak when he needs to, and win his 18th major by 2015. He's not his late 20-year-old self. No, he's ten years smarter, ten years more mature and, omitting last week's performance, no less hungry than he has ever been.
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