Clock ticking on Tiger's tilt at history?
Tiger Woods has not won a major since the 2008 U.S. Open. (Getty Images)
August 12th, 2013
03:59 PM ET

Clock ticking on Tiger's tilt at history?

There was a time when Tiger Woods would never have described a year without a major as "great." Maybe he knew what was to come at Oak Hill.

Woods is a four-time PGA champion, but never once threatened to make it five in New York at this season's final major.

When he won so easily in Ohio the previous week, I began to fear for him. As analysts up and down the country declared his 15th major title a formality, I urged caution.

Why? He'd had it too easy. A seven-shot victory with not a challenger in sight. It was all so straightforward. This was no test for him. No vigorous workout before competing in one of golf's big four. And Tiger knew it too.

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Hence his post-Ohio comments in which he surprised many by saying, with five PGA Tour wins, he already considered it a great year. For most players that's true, of course. But Tiger isn't most players.

He was a non-factor at Oak Hill, never once threatening the top of the leaderboard. His form during this year's majors must be a huge concern for him. In 16 rounds he has broken 70 just once.

The law of averages dictates he must win another major at some point, but the startling reality is he's now gone 18 majors without a win.

He'll turn 38 later this year and, while age is still on his side, I often wonder to what extent his self-belief has wavered in recent years when it comes to the cauldron-like atmosphere of competing down the stretch at a major tournament.

It wasn't that long ago that when Tiger's name appeared near the top of the leaderboard, other players would simply fold and go to pieces. Those days are long gone.

However, one man brimming with self-belief is Jason Dufner.

The 36-year-old should have recorded the first major triumph of his career at this event in 2011, but he blew a five-shot lead over the final three holes at Atlanta Athletic Club to surrender the title to Keegan Bradley.

He corrected that error on Sunday, showing the steely nerve which abandoned him two years ago to secure a two-stroke victory over Jim Furyk.

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Dufner shot to prominence earlier this year, when an unfortunate photograph of him looking bored and vacant during an appearance at a school in Texas spawned a spate of imitations, creating the craze of “Dufnering.”

The Cleveland native displayed an altogether more admirable indifference down the stretch on Sunday, carding a two-under-par final round to win the first major of his 13-year pro career.

Unlike Dufner, Woods' career will likely be defined by whether he can match Jack Nicklaus’ record haul of 18 major titles.

And as far as performance in golf’s four marquee tournaments is concerned, Woods is enduring a gargantuan slump.

By the time next April's Masters comes around, the current world No. 1's major drought will be just shy of six years. When your name is Tiger Woods, that is a golfing lifetime.

Nicklaus, widely regarded as the only man who stands above Woods in golf’s pantheon of greats, suffered his own lean spell.

His worst major drought was 20 and came at the tail end of his illustrious career.

Tiger has been "stuck" on his tally of 14 majors since June 2008 and, right now at least, he appears as far away as ever from adding to it.

If Woods is to rediscover his form of old, his unflappable confidence and assured performances on many a major Sunday, he might want to consider taking a leaf out of Dufner's book.

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Filed under:  Golf
soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. Yung

    Yap, I agree totally. In majors this year, in particular, Tiger has never contended for the top of the leaderboards. He seemed to have lost something. His face reflected a kind of indifference after a bad shot sometimes, especially from Memorial.There is a difference on the reactions between Phil and Tiger on the interviews about their poor performance in this PGA Championship which are quite opposite; Tiger refused his failure simply relying on an excuse 'out of luck', while Phil accepted with a turkey talking 'wanna forget this bad one'. That make me think; Ah~ Phil will come back strongly to the field one day as he's done in British Open 2013, but Tiger may remain in question until the fortune finds to him. Is a tiger in wildness a sort of animal who sits and waits for a food? I's not a matter of age, obviously. Tiger should remove strains of gossips like with Sergio, Steve and Adam first...then recover his focus on the game. That would be what all golf-lovers in the world want and wait for from Tiger. Isn't he lucky enough as there are many patrons are still waiting till he comes back in a form?

    August 12, 2013 at 6:51 pm | Reply
    • Derek

      If you look at the careers of Jack versus Tiger there is one huge difference and it may turn out to be "the" vital difference. Jack focused on Majors. He never tried to do something like "win the most games in a year" or something like that. He played in fewer tournaments than most players and typically skipped smaller events. Tiger, by contrast, has done just the opposite. Tiger has won the most games in a year. He plays in ever event that he can. He even plays in large money events that aren't part of the tour. All of this makes him money of course, which is nice. But it also takes a toll on his body. While Tiger is now 7 years younger than Jack was when he won his last major, Tiger has already played in many more matches. One has to wonder if his body and psyche are really up to it all.

      November 3, 2013 at 7:33 am | Reply
  2. KCh

    Tiger must change his current swing to a 'more controlled less body movement more hands action ' one if he wants to win a major again. You can't win from the rough all the time.

    August 12, 2013 at 7:43 pm | Reply
    • hacker

      Ridiculous. Swinging in sync with the body has allowed Tiger to be much more successful. Five wins in one season speaks for itself. Using hands to catch up, flip, or correct leads to missed fairways. Tiger's problem is not his full swing. Look no further than the flat stick. When Tiger left his first four footer on Sunday at the Open weak and to the right while in contention, I knew it was over. Any club player, myself included, knows that stroke only too well and it's the result of trying to wish the ball in and is usually a result of lack of confidence. The old Tiger would have rapped that putt into the back of the cup. The new Tiger has lost that putting stroke and until he regains it, especially under the dire pressure of a major, he won't win #15.

      October 30, 2013 at 6:43 pm | Reply
  3. Eddy Blonde

    If my calculation is not wrong, when Jack Nicklaus was 37 he had won 14 majors, exactly the same number Tiger Wood's got at the same age. To me the race is still on.

    August 12, 2013 at 10:16 pm | Reply
  4. Warren Brown

    Pete Sampras has also been stuck on 14 Majors for years!

    August 12, 2013 at 11:11 pm | Reply
  5. ellis

    These are the same guys who was saying that Tiger might never win another golf tournament as late as 24 months ago. Tiger was not bothered by such nonsense then and will not be now. The only person that truly have the answer to this question is Tiger Woods. The mere fact that he is still playing should tell us something.

    August 22, 2013 at 8:15 pm | Reply
  6. David

    If I recall correcly, 5 years ago Greg Norman said Tiger would never win another major. Greg received serious criticism at that time, but was he prescient ?

    August 25, 2013 at 1:14 am | Reply
  7. Richard Veldsman

    Tiger is trying too hard. He needs to see a psychologist get relax him completely.
    firstly i do not like that new swing. it seems as though he wants to cut/fade every shot. why not just play a normal swing which Stenson used so succussfully. it looked as if he, Stenson Would hit every flag at one stage. the same with Dufner when he won the PGA. Tiger should take a leaf from those performances and stop trying to retify in swings. Play as Stenson did -3 wood off the tee (conventional swing) and attack the pin with second shot. his,(Tiger) iron shots are good, so why not make that change. Use driver when confidence is back during each round. ????

    September 23, 2013 at 10:01 am | Reply
  8. Richard Veldsman

    also remember- you must look at the opposition he is up against – these are exceptionally good players- the courses have also been lengthened to nullify the Tiger factor. Tiger has also raised the game to a new level. Without the 'Tiger factor' golf will seldm be exciting!! i would watch intently when Tiger is playing (whether good or bad) i have seen shots from Tiger which other players have not yet discovered. he has also made it possible for so many new players to up their game (Adam Scott imitated his swing for some time). Golf has never had the coverage it has now. Tiger has made this sport into a religion.

    September 23, 2013 at 10:10 am | Reply
  9. Joe.CJ

    Tiger is a genius at golf playing and I have no idea if there is second tiger appear in the next 10 years, so let's be good to Tiger and cheer for him! I like Tiger and began to be interested in golf 2 years ago and by now I still play...not good... I studied some rangefinders to improve my scores and I built a website with a comparison table for the golf rangefinder, .
    Return to the point, Tiger is not that young, how longer can he keep his status for the golf playing?

    November 2, 2013 at 2:43 pm | Reply
  10. C. Boomer

    Woods has never been the same since he exposed himself as a fountain of slime. He's DONE !

    November 29, 2013 at 6:46 pm | Reply
  11. gin arnold

    I said 2 years ago that Tiger has proven to be one of the greatest to ever play the game, and only time will tell if he is THE greatest. His personal life definitely hurt his career but that is now behind him and he will win another major, no doubt about it. As the world's number one he is an easy target for those that cannot break a 100.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:04 pm | Reply

    Tiger woods put golf in the minds and hearts of people in the whole world. He had broken so many records in such a young age, with so much obstacles, hurdles, prejudices around him. He is a very strong and smart man and no one will be like him ever. His achievements are legendary. Hats off to you son!!!

    December 7, 2013 at 9:58 pm | Reply
  13. Bob

    He lost his veil of invincibility and virtue, grenaded his family, and fired his caddie who used to mimic his on course intimidation. Of course nothing's the same for him in majors. He used to be a brand of he's a brand of done.

    December 8, 2013 at 5:23 pm | Reply
  14. Bill

    I wonder whether Tiger's implosion and majors drought began when the Tour began testing for steroids. Is he the Barry Bonds of golf? Are all his records are suspect? Without steroids, can he even close out most Sundays on a regular Tour event, never mind a major? Is his record nothing more than another manifestation of the steroids era in sports? Is he the Brian Bosworth of golf? I wonder.

    December 18, 2013 at 6:15 pm | Reply
  15. Richard Veldsman

    if all the amateur golfers in the world can just post a comment on how difficult this game of golf is and what it takes just to win one tournament, those Tiger critics will then understand how good this special golfer by the name of Tiger Woods is. there are pros on the circuit who feel happy to win maybe twicwe in their career (and these are excellent golfers) can you just imagine how much hard work it takes just to play the game. My feeling is simple while Tiger is struggling, There is now a chance for those good golfers to improve their records until such time the Tiger pounces.
    once a winner always a winner- Tiger happens to have changed this game and inspire millions of all walks of life!!!

    February 27, 2014 at 2:01 pm | Reply
  16. Richard Veldsman

    steroids my foot- give the man his due.

    February 27, 2014 at 2:02 pm | Reply

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