March 30, 2015

Tiger Woods Falls Out of Top 100 in Golf: Tiger Woods, who spent 683 weeks (over 13 years) atop the rankings of world golfers, has fallen out of the top 100. He's currently at 104 and sidelined with injury. In February the 39-year-old took an indefinite break from golf and called his play "not acceptable for tournament golf," but he's hoping to be back to play the Masters in April. He has won 14 Majors, the last in 2008 at the U.S. Open.

posted by rcade to golf at 10:52 AM - 8 comments

This is like watching the end of Steve Carlton's career. One of the greats of all time struggling mightily with the end of his career, and refusing to go quietly into the night while chipping away at the legacy he built.

I would love for Tiger to be "Tiger" one last time at the Masters (redemption/recovery stories are so hot), but I'm not holding out hope.

posted by grum@work at 12:03 PM on March 30

I'm not holding out much hope either. I can remember reading shortly before Tiger's marriage blew up that the ACL surgery on his left knee might not allow him to ever be the golfer he was. Something about his style of swing made the analyst think he'd never be able to get that kind of power again.

I was at Sawgrass hoping to see him in 2011 on the day he abruptly quit the Player's due to injury. One reason I had gone was to see a Tiger being Tiger redemption narrative after a couple years of enjoying his problems. That site was also the place he held that weird "sorry I'm a manwhore" press conference with his mom sitting in the front row.

posted by rcade at 12:38 PM on March 30

Honestly, I'm not even sure Tiger's legacy stands to gain much from him continuing to get back some of his former glory. If he's playing for the love of the game, great, but even if he came back and wins 4 more majors and becomes the all-time leader in majors and wins, I'm not really sure it changes that much.

People are going to remember two Tigers for as long as we remember sport stars - the red shirted, fist-pumping, untouchable one, and the one who fell apart in the public eye in a form and time frame that is possibly unprecedented. He was the best at his time (and arguably had the best multi-year run ever), and one of the best of all-time, but I don't think he's got time left to put up a record that will make him the undisputed best-of-all-time.

posted by dfleming at 01:57 PM on March 30

I think Verne Lundquist is keeping a catheter and defibrillator up in the tower at Augusta just in case Tiger has one more magic moment in him.

Can't Tiger win tournaments by doing what pitchers do as they get older? When you can't be a Clemens and throw anymore, try to be a Maddux and pitch? Don't challenge the golf course as much; play sound, smart golf within your physical limitations; compete to win, not to dominate. He doesn't have to eagle the par 5's to put up decent scores. It would definitely be boring golf compared to what he used to do, but there are already a ton of guys on the tour who bore me to sleep when I watch them play. What's one more?

Whenever I think of Tiger losing his father, I can't help thinking of Mike Tyson and Cus D'Amato.

(I know, referencing Maddux in a Tiger post is going barefooted over the hot lava).

posted by beaverboard at 02:26 PM on March 30

Don't challenge the golf course as much; play sound, smart golf within your physical limitations; compete to win, not to dominate.

I haven't followed golf in a few years, but is there a guy out there right now following this sort of formula? It seemed for a while there if you weren't long off the tee and aggressive with your irons you weren't typically in contention very often because the courses were getting longer, and pin placements more ridiculous. Has that changed?

posted by dfleming at 04:39 PM on March 30

It seemed for a while there if you weren't long off the tee and aggressive with your irons you weren't typically in contention very often because the courses were getting longer, and pin placements more ridiculous.

There was a term they used when they changed the courses like that:

"Tiger-proofing"

I think the issue right now is that he simply can't hit the ball properly, regardless of the length of the shot. He's seems to be a physical mess, and he's trying to overcompensate and it's turning him into an emotional mess. It would be like a former-fastball pitcher who now has a minor injury, and then deciding to alter his mechanics so he can still throw the ball hard. More often than not, it's going to lead to more injury and more adjustments and eventually you aren't doing anything right.

posted by grum@work at 09:40 PM on March 30

He's got more insidious problems at the moment than not being able to hit towering iron shots or long drives (he can still do both at least as well as the "average" guys out there); what he's spent the last couple of months battling (wisely, behind closed doors) is a form of the yips more dreaded than the putting version - the chipping yips.

His back is allegedly fine again (according to Notah Begay), and his knees aren't giving him trouble. Ironically, tinkering with his swing so much for so many years in an attempt to avoid long term injury may actually have caused a lot of his physical problems. He switched back to an older version over the winter and suddenly was hitting very big drives again, not all of them headed to the carpark either.

I don't doubt that he had an injury at the Farmers event, but it was evident in the run-up to that incident that he was really struggling with the chipping yips. In isolation, they're tough to deal with and will cost you several shots a round before you know it; but far worse is how they put pressure on other areas of your game, both forwards and backwards.

Going forwards, you're leaving yourself longer par putts, which, even if you hole them, take it out of you emotionally if you keep having to hole them instead of leaving yourself a nice three inch tap in. Going backwards, your approach shots come under more pressure because you know you're in trouble if you miss the green. You start to steer it away from flags to avoid short-siding yourself, and pretty soon, even if you hit all the greens, you're dropping shots. They even cause problems back at the tee; you start trying to drive it further to give yourself shorter approach shots to reduce the odds on you missing the green and having to chip.

Rumour has it today that Tiger's going to Augusta tomorrow to play a practice round. Like most golf fans (and players) I'd love to see him play and compete again, but even if he's found something he can use around the greens (in terms of a technique or a thought) that has "cured" his yips, it will only take one knifed flop shot to cut the legs out from under him if he plays next week.

posted by JJ at 09:22 AM on March 31

As a side note - or, more accurately, to directly comment on the FPP - in the 18.5 years between entering the top 100 and dropping out of it, he spent more than 13 years in total as world number one. That's just stupendous.

That said, I still reckon he's the closest thing real sport has to a Roy Munson.

posted by JJ at 09:30 AM on March 31

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