December 16th, 2010
12:47 PM ET

Can Tiger turn the tide in 2011?

Tiger Woods, right, lost to Graeme McDowell in a playoff at the charity tournament he hosts. (AFP/Getty Images)
Tiger Woods, right, lost to Graeme McDowell in a playoff at the charity tournament he hosts. (AFP/Getty Images)

CNN's World Sport will be broadcasting its predictions for 2011 in upcoming shows between December 31-January 2. In the fourth of a series of preview blogs, Don Riddell takes a look at Tiger Woods' chances of becoming a major force in golf again.

When someone dominates a sport, the question is not so much will they win major tournaments, but how many. For the last decade, that has been the question for Tiger Woods every season: will it be one, two, three or all four? The smart money used to be reserved for at least two of those career-defining golf trophies. At his peak, barely anyone else got a look-in. How things have changed.

You’d never have thought that a run of top-15 finishes would have been positive for Woods, but such were the depths that the former world number one plumbed in 2010, a run of such results was good news.

How could it not be? Shed of his aura of invincibility by a humiliating scandal, Tiger had to suffer the indignity of a missed cut, an 18-over-par performance and ties for 46th and 78th place. He didn’t win anything in 2010. No majors, no tournaments, no skins games, nothing.

Will he ever recover the prowess that made him a sporting legend and a global celebrity? Perhaps. But the golfing landscape has shifted so seismically in the last 12 months that the question can no longer be asked in isolation.

Tiger used to intimidate his opponents by his very presence. It was said that with Woods in the field, the rest would concede him a stroke every round. These were players that crumbled in his company, players that didn’t think they could beat him and didn’t know how it felt to win major trophies.

No longer.

While Woods was losing his wife, his sponsors, a winning habit and the top ranking, his rivals were getting used to winning, winning, winning.

Graeme McDowell and Martin Kaymer won majors in 2010. Justin Rose, Ian Poulter, Rory McIlroy all won on the PGA Tour. Luke Donald had a brilliant season, Lee Westwood deservedly became the world’s top golfer.

And these were just the Europeans. Closer to home, Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk have still got it, Jeff Overton, Bubba Watson and Rickie Fowler have become established. Dustin Johnson could easily have won two majors in 2010.

Tiger would seem to be on the way back. Augusta was the venue for his long-awaited comeback in April, but August marked the turning point. With a new swing coach, Sean Foley, in his corner and a painful divorce completed, he was able to focus on his game.

But with the competition now ranged against him, I think he’ll have to be even better than he once was if he’s to match or overhaul the record of 18 major titles held by  Jack Nicklaus. At the end of the day, it’s against Jack’s record that he will be judged.

As for 2011, I believe it’s the rising tide of European golfers that will outshine him on the major stage.

They used to ask what golf would be without Tiger Woods. With the new generation allowed to flourish in his absence, the sport has just got a whole lot more interesting.

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Filed under:  Golf
soundoff (20 Responses)
  1. junefer Llena

    The quest goes on as long as the heart of the winner keeps on pounding!
    That's Tiger!!!

    December 16, 2010 at 1:25 pm | Reply
  2. TJ

    I hope he proves you wrong. Why you think the potential demise of a player is news worthy is beyond me. I think the national inquirer is hiring.

    December 16, 2010 at 2:21 pm | Reply
  3. Kanji Daramy

    With age and huge experience on his side Tiger Woods will rise and rise again. All he needs now is to focus on his golf and forget about the distractions that haunted him in 2010. All great heroes, past and present, have had their lows and getting up each time they fall separates them from the unsung and the unheard of. Tiger is a great hero.

    December 16, 2010 at 2:35 pm | Reply
  4. alehandro

    I think we have to stop thinking about Tiger coming back to his previous level and instead begin seeing him in a different way. He is not the same person that he was, and his past has no bearing on his present and future. He's had a wake up call in his private life and, perhaps as a result, in his professional life too. This has been a new start for Tiger, and based on that, his performances haven't been that bad this season. Of course, they pale in comparison to what went before, but that's irrelevant. It's time we wiped the slate clean and judge him on what he does not on what he did.

    December 16, 2010 at 3:09 pm | Reply
  5. Bobo

    Thinking about sex 24h a day will do that to you... The days of glory are long gone... Now, enjoy what you can grab and enjoy... Maybe 1 victory here and there...? Never again champion of the PGA. You're only human anyway... That's the ugly truth!

    December 16, 2010 at 3:50 pm | Reply
  6. qb

    I think Tiger will come back in 2011 stronger than ever. He has the divorse behind him and a healthy body too.
    Watch him compete in the majors. I look for him to win several times and prove Riddell wrong!!!

    December 16, 2010 at 4:01 pm | Reply
  7. Pat Johnson

    I think everyone should get over it....let Tiger and Elin get on with their lives...It looks as though Elin is doing just that....Lets all keep our noses to ourselves in 2011 and hope the best for everyone in the coming year....

    December 16, 2010 at 4:04 pm | Reply
  8. henry O

    the 2011 golfing season is what i would like to call a proof year. The rising european golfers have to prove that their success in 2010 was not a fluke or a flash in the pan. They have to consolidate or repeat or even better their performance especially in the majors, in 2011, in order to put to rest any doubt that yes the wind of change in the golfing landscape is truly blowing in their direction. As for tiger he has to show to us once again like he has done in the past, that he can get is mojo back. Is not goin to be easy but it will be interesting to see how all these play out in 2011

    December 16, 2010 at 4:13 pm | Reply
  9. Tom C

    Nothing in 2011 will be unbelievable for Tiger (considering his accomplishments). He has changed mentally but his heart has not. It's the attitude and heart that makes an athlete a champion (along with some luck). I believe Tiger will get into a stride which may not be equal to his past, but it will be good enough to allow him to last another 15 to 20 years. That is plenty of time to retire with the record. Be prepared to eat your words if you are against him. He is and will always be....Tiger Woods!

    December 16, 2010 at 5:34 pm | Reply
  10. smanCometh

    Like I keep saying..Tiger is done. he has no shot at breaking the Golden Bears record, none whatsoever. He may get lucky and win one more major which will still give him a fantastic number but his overall goal of passing Jack's total of 18 majors is now unattainable for him. I am so glad that jack will remain the greatest golfer of all time.

    December 16, 2010 at 6:42 pm | Reply
  11. tomyummer

    Maybe he should get back to what he was doing before his divorce. It seemed to work before. And now that the wife is legally out of the way...get back to the women and get your golf game back? It's the Thai way!!

    December 16, 2010 at 6:44 pm | Reply
  12. Sachiko

    Hi Don🙂 always enjoy and appreciate your works on world sport.

    Everyone has up and down in life, and that of Tiger is roller-coaster. He fell to the bottom this year, that may mean rising up next. Of course needs quite a bit of tremendous efforts to make it happen, but tough times make you more stronger than before. If Tiger get over and put himself on course for winning circle again, we could see not only adoration he has had but also affinity in him, inspiring something in our own life.

    It's fun to see young talent versus experience, one of exciting and fascinating aspect in sport.

    (sorry for my English is not good because I'm not native English speaker)

    December 17, 2010 at 12:29 am | Reply
  13. Walter L. Strickland

    I DO NOT USUALLY LIKE OR WATCH SPORTS, EXCEPT QUARTER HORSE SHOWS AND RACING. HOWEVER, TIGER'S REMARKS AT THE SWEARING IN OF MR. OBAMA, WHICH WERE COMPLETELY IGNORED BY NEWS MEDIA, MADE ME FULLY APPRECIATE HIM AS A MAN AND SPORTSMAN. I SINCERELY HOPE HE WILL REGAIN HIS "GAME" AND MAKE AMERICA PROUD AGAIN.

    December 17, 2010 at 1:33 am | Reply
  14. Jorgen Friis

    I have read your comments about Tiger Woods. I cannot understand how you guys can keep harping on the same thing. Havent you guys got better things to do with your time than keep highlighting Tiger, the player, and his woes. If you want to see the best of him again I suggest you and your media friends leave him be and let him re-discover his love for the game, and his form, that made him the "special one" in golf. However, if you are genuinely looking for Tiger to regain his position as the world's premier golfer I would suggest the constant comments of his past, present and future are definitely not constructive nor conducive to the resurrection of his number one status. The media has a way of cutting the legs off a person conversely the media can also through constructive support and reporting help a person regain confidence to excel in his or hers chosen sport. Your incessant harping and reminders to all and sundry of TW's past piccadillos does
    little to impress me that you genuinely want to see him scale his
    past heights. I am sure Tiger will reach his lofty heights once again
    no thanks to your negative reporting

    December 17, 2010 at 11:53 am | Reply
  15. Peter Chang

    I believe that Tiger Woods will be No. 1 of the world again in 2011. Long live the king of Golf for Tiger. May God bless Woods!
    Peter Chang

    December 22, 2010 at 8:41 am | Reply
  16. James

    Tiger will never dominate golf like he did before,no question about that and been European it is brilliant to see so many now challenging at the Majors and been successful and I think the European boys(McDowell,Mcilroy,Westwood,Kaymer,etc) will start to dominate the sport in 2011

    December 23, 2010 at 11:56 am | Reply
  17. Chinedu Benneth

    I pray that Tiger will come up by next year because he is my beg-est fan ever i love him so much God bless you Tiger

    December 25, 2010 at 6:35 pm | Reply
  18. BILLY

    2011 going be grate year of golf. woods well be back

    December 27, 2010 at 1:06 pm | Reply
  19. ow

    I think Woods will come back stronger in 2011. I know he has put all that took place last year behind him and i can't wait to see him perform and put his critics to shame, I wish him a great season. see you on the golf course Tiger...!

    January 3, 2011 at 11:07 am | Reply
  20. enrique caceres

    Tiger run out of gas.
    Theres a new king JONATHAN VEGAS

    February 7, 2011 at 9:17 pm | Reply

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