With today’s PGA tournament media focus always directed toward the play of Tiger Woods, his fans, golf writers and TV analysts are all questioning what’s happened to his winning dominance, as he continues to tumble down final day leaderboards. To me, there are a few profound reasons – all of which have occurred within the previous four years of his personal life and game.
I’m sure it can be agreed the principle reason for Tiger’s winning collapse is due to the worldly mob invasion of “star powered” Y generation phenoms, none of whom are older than 27, all of which are obscuring his play, led by 23 year-old “Boy Wonder” Rory McIlroy from Northern Ireland. Of all the tour’s legitimate rivals for Woods over the years for No. 1 player of the year, McIlroy is the first player who is younger – by more than 13 years.
After recently winning the 2012 money titles (in the U.S. and Europe), McIlroy won five times, the most of anyone around the world. He won the Vardon Trophy for the lowest scoring average on the tour.
And he won the PGA of America player of the year – all the awards Woods used to win. “Tiger” must now countenance McIlroy as his first legitimate roadblock in his continued quest of being the world’s No. 1 player. The 2012 season marks Woods’ two year anniversary of losing his No.1 ranking.
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To date, with his record-setting 17 years on tour, 36-year-old Woods has 86 wins and 14 major titles. With the official 2012 PGA tour season now over, he played his biggest schedule since 1999, and recently rated his play a good comeback year, but not a great year by his standards because it’s missing one essential ingredient: a major title. In 2011, he had only three wins, finished out of the top 125 on the money list for the first time in his career, and experienced the longest title drought in his career. With the PGA announcing 40 official money list events scheduled in 2013, he’s confident his play can be better and he’s absolutely targeting more major titles to challenge Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 and Snead’s record of most wins.
Another factor is the cold hard reality that 17 years of competing at golf’s highest level, and at 36 years old, he has become a victim of the ups and downs foibles of aging that befalls us all. Time has suddenly become a factor as he now finds himself in the early stages of metamorphosis that he’s never experienced before: the time in one’s career when you discover that achieving “it,” whatever “it” might be, is not as important anymore.
Finally, and perhaps the most devastating blow to him was when his personal life and golf career spiraled downward and out of control, when in 2008, a string of sexual infidelities were disclosed. Following that, he self imposed a two-year hiatus from the game.
The writer lives in Myrtle Beach.