December 7th, 2011
08:31 PM ET

Tiger holds no terror for golf's new world order

Tiger Woods celebrates his victory in the Chevron World Challenge but sterner tests await in 2012.
Tiger Woods celebrates his victory in the Chevron World Challenge but sterner tests await in 2012.

If you want to know why Tiger Woods isn’t about to dominate golf the way he once did, watch Luke Donald and Rory McIlroy go head to head at the Dubai World Championship this weekend.

Suddenly the sport’s focus is on two Brits –- 1st and 2nd in the world rankings -– battling it out to finish top of Europe’s money list. In years gone by, that sort of headline-grabber would have played out in the United States.

But this isn’t about a switch in golf’s geographical power base; it’s about a generational change. And the disappearance of Tiger’s fear factor despite his first tournament victory for more than two years.

While it would be a stretch to include Donald in the rising ranks of brilliant young golfers (despite his youthful looks, he is 34), the Englishman is finally fulfilling the talent that’s been evident for many seasons.

After four victories, three second places and 19 top-10 finishes in 2011, Donald has quite rightly risen to world number one –- despite his lack of a major title.

McIlroy, however, is at the vanguard of the players who are young, skilful beyond their years and impatient for success; not just the odd tournament victory here or there, they want major titles.

The 22-year-old from Northern Ireland has already done that, becoming the youngest winner of the U.S. Open since the legendary Bobby Jones in 1923. And that was despite the trauma of his last-round collapse in The Masters at Augusta just two months earlier.

Great things beckon for McIlroy, the cream of a crop that includes Australia’s Jason Day, Americans Rickie Fowler and Keegan Bradley and Japan’s Ryo Ishikawa.

Those players will have seen Tiger Woods’ win at the Chevron World Challenge as a challenge, not a barrier. Their whole approach to golf is “Bring it on!”

And the same could be said for a slightly older, but no more daunted group, which contains the likes of Masters champion Charl Schwartzel, 2010 U.S. Open victor Graeme McDowell, big-hitting Dustin Johnson and 2010 U.S.PGA Championship winner Martin Kaymer.

Tiger Woods' cheerleaders would have us believe that he’s about to turn back the clock several years, terrorize golf once again and storm past Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major titles.

But the world has changed.

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Filed under:  Golf
soundoff (47 Responses)
  1. Johnd

    Hey these so called "talented young players" have not proven anything on the golf course yet. I think these Brits know how to stand for each other as Donald said it "Rory is more talented than TWs" I watch golf on TV because of TWs. He is sensational in every game he entered. Sorry I am not yet to spend my time watching Rory play golf on TV.
    We will see how these pretenders holds after the 3 games Eldrick has tee it off.

    December 7, 2011 at 8:38 pm | Reply
  2. Jason

    Your last sentence is so wrong. His cheerleaders don't think he will storm past Jack. I certainly believe he still has a chance but that went from about 80% to about 20 % over the last two years. Also he doesn't need to win that much to keep up with Luke Donald or Rory as both guys won like once or twice at most on the US tour. If Tiger can win 1-3 times a year he is right up there with the best on Tour and i certainly expect he is headed in that direction. He won't dominate but he will continue to pursue records little by little and be a major player in golf.

    December 7, 2011 at 9:41 pm | Reply
  3. Paul

    And, Tiger Woods detractors would have us believe that there's actually someone out there that can beat him. Wait until Rory McIlroy goes toe to toe w/ Tiger in a Major, next year, and then tell me Tiger's fear factor isn't still there. Tiger made the faintest push on Sunday at the Masters, las April, and Rory folded like a cheap card table. Tiger has already dispensed with Luke Donald, head to head, in the final group on Sunday at the 2006 PGA. 14 differernt winners of Major championships since Tiger won his last (the '08 US Open). So, where is this Tiger killer?? Nobody has taken advantage of Woods' 'absence' the past couple of years.

    Let's see Keegan Bradley v. Jason Dufner, or Keegan Bradley v. Tiger Woods. You don't think the 'nervous dynamic' ratchets up a bit? Dustin Johnson. Hmmmmm...three Major choke jobs and off season knee surgery, to boot. I'm sure he's a threat. Martin Kaymer. 2010 PGA Champion. 2011 Missing In Action. Charl Schwartzel. Nice player....see, Trevor Immelman. Next. Graeme McDowell. 2010 World Player of the Year. 2011 Missing In Action. How'd that equipment change work out for you, G-Mac.

    Luke Skywalker told Yoda he wasn't afraid of Darth Vader. Yoda's response?......'You will be....You will be.'

    December 7, 2011 at 9:44 pm | Reply
  4. Eric

    Let me also send greet to the great men in CNN world sport, pedro pinto, Don radel, Candy reid, Alex thomas, Tery Badoo, Mark mckay and Kate. Sorry if i didn't get all the spelly wright Please forgive me, but i tried. I love you guys. Eric from Ng.

    December 7, 2011 at 10:54 pm | Reply
  5. Dave

    I have ten bucks says Tiger wins 5 tournaments this year...2 of which will be majors. By the end of the 2013 season, Tiger will have tied Nicklaus' record of 18. And I'm not a cheerleader. I'm a man who has played the game for 30 years, and who just witnessed a very exciting turn around on the PGA Tour. True, the majority of us want to see that dominating presence again, but my words following are merely based on fact – not hope. Tiger has undergone 2 swing changes in his career, prior this most recent one. After each change, it took him about 6 months to win again. And then we saw the rampages we were used to seeing. This win at The Chevron, Sunday, is going to catapult his attitude. He’ll work twice as hard during the next 2 months, and he’s been working hard as it is. The noise we will all be hearing Sunday, at Augusta, in April, will be compared to the noise heard on a Sunday afternoon at Arrowhead stadium – when the Chiefs are actually in contention, of course.

    December 7, 2011 at 11:07 pm | Reply
  6. Nana Asiedu

    Singing praises too early, Alex!
    Not different from how the brits treat Andy Murray.
    Early days yet. if Donald can win at 34, why cant Tiger at 35?

    December 8, 2011 at 12:32 am | Reply
  7. Jeff

    Those mentioned could very well challenge TW except for one thing, they have not learned to win in a constant manner at the highest level.
    They are good no doubt but in the end who will be a one hit wonder (s)
    like so many others when it comes to majors or end their career with 10 or less wins in regular play like so many up and coming stars in the past.

    December 8, 2011 at 2:11 am | Reply
  8. Robert

    Dead on. Tiger might have had a chance at Jack's major record but he has wasted the time since 2008 US Open and I believe it is highly improbable now for him to fight off the talented players who want it and are truly not afraid of Tiger any more. When you take things for granted they soon disappear.

    December 8, 2011 at 4:06 am | Reply
  9. otobi

    Fear factor aside, I would rather put it like it's always been said "Lets wait and see". You can't write off Tiger yet.

    December 8, 2011 at 6:27 am | Reply
  10. jean-marc

    "TW will no longer dominate golf". I have heard that one before. Let's wait and see.

    December 8, 2011 at 6:37 am | Reply
  11. cy clops

    it done looks like Nicklaus major record done be safe forevah after all

    December 8, 2011 at 9:23 am | Reply
  12. jeter86

    the Tiger is on a come back ,so LOOK OUT !!!!

    December 8, 2011 at 3:10 pm | Reply
  13. alehandro

    Now let me get this straight - you guys used to talk incessantly about how Tiger was GOING to dominate golf; you then bored us stupid with relentlessly sycophantic talk of how Tiger IS dominating golf; next came the endless discussion about Tiger's downfall ON and OFF the golf course; and now we're getting chapter and verse on his will he or won't he RETURN to golf's summit. Talk about obsessive! There was golf before Tiger and there will be golf after Tiger. In fact there HAS been golf without Tiger as a significant factor for a couple of years now and it's high time you guys stopped using him as a yardstick for success. It's been proven that no man is bigger than the game. Time and circumstances have caught up with him. He's off his pedestal, demonstrably not invincible, and his rise or fall is no longer a story. Tiger, who's decidedly more humble than he used to be, gets it. His fellow golfers get it, why can't you journalists?

    December 8, 2011 at 4:33 pm | Reply
  14. Jc

    The real issue here is winning tournaments. McIroy is winning tournaments, big ones at a young age. He is loaded with talent, has no fear and now has the proof in his mind that he can win a major. He should win more. Luke Donald ia an amazingly consistent player, not a great closer on Sunday. You can mend his mail to second or third a lot. He should win more given the chances he gives himself. moth was similar and never won a major surprisingly.

    There is no one like Woods. If he stays healthy, look out. He had a great win, and did so after a very average strectch of holes on the final day with several bogeys. He still makes a lot more bogeys than on years past. That said, 70 plus wins, 35, physically fit like few others....I say he gets to 22 majors before he is forty two. Six full seasons to win 1.5 a year. By the way, that is domination.

    December 8, 2011 at 10:55 pm | Reply
  15. Splash4g

    How many times have the so called experts written of Tiger and yet been sorely wrong? From David Duval, to Vijay Singh and Sergio to Lefty, Tiger has seen them all and may have been down for spells, but he has always found that extra shot, and mental toughness to confound his biggest detractors while dazzling even the most pessimistic skeptics! Tiger my never win tournaments by 12 strokes but he is far from done! I dont think Jack is comfy sitting pretty about his 18 Majors milestone, while Tiger reinvents his game and kicks his game up a few notches, provided he stays healthy 5 more majors is far from a stretch for Eldrick T Woods

    December 8, 2011 at 11:01 pm | Reply
  16. arthur

    tiger is shot ...

    December 9, 2011 at 2:11 am | Reply
  17. Jay

    You all so called current professional golfers, before you say anything look at how many majors each one of you have won and how many have Tiger won and see the comparisson. Nobody have come close to even half of what Tiger have achieved and do you think it is an easy feat. If Tiger is not that talented do you think he will be able to do it? And will you be able to surpass it?

    December 9, 2011 at 6:52 am | Reply
  18. Michael

    The comments must be insulting to many golf pros who have competed against TW for many years eg Ernie, Leftie, etc – that TW won because they were either useless or were not hungry to win. I believe TW is a strong competitor and, with a stable swing, he will beat most at their best.

    December 9, 2011 at 10:10 am | Reply
  19. Malyk10

    Tiger's been on top for so many years and was actually the 'perfect sportsman' until the scandals emerged. He's got the ability to bounce back, though the odds may not be in his favour because the media may never portray him in good light again. However, I wish him the best.

    December 9, 2011 at 12:59 pm | Reply
  20. George

    Am telling you guys the man(TW) is going up there..

    December 9, 2011 at 1:08 pm | Reply
  21. Carlos

    Dave, you and I will make a lot of money this year betting with Tiger. I could never get a bet before. Now these fools that don't know golf are ready to write off Tiger. Get your money out fools.

    December 9, 2011 at 3:47 pm | Reply
  22. Jack White

    We have heard this before, the thing is that Tiger only stopped dominating due to personal problems and injury. He is making a good comeback and so there is no doubt that he will dominate again, since none of the top guys have been able to make the kind of impact he had done.

    December 11, 2011 at 1:09 pm | Reply
  23. samxie19

    the sport of golf needs passion just like Tiger woods showed in the past year of his dominance, so tiger come back, impose your fear factor on the rest players again, it will result in a better sport feast again. i believe.

    December 12, 2011 at 3:05 am | Reply
  24. daryl moris

    you just wait my friend...and all the naysayers too...because 2012 is going to be Tiger's year...just wait

    December 12, 2011 at 7:59 pm | Reply
  25. Hunty

    Anyone who knows anything about golf knows that what Mr. Woods achieved up until 2009 was way beyond what anyone thought possible in the modern era of golf. A player who has reached (several times) the standard of golf he has does not just disappear – Sandy and David Duval were not anywhere near the same standard. Rory is more talented, but it is far more than talent that makes a great golfer, just look at the likes of Seve, Norman and Woosie. How many majors did they have between them? It will be interesting to see what goes on in Tiger's head next year because that is the only thing between him and Jack's record. Remember, if you include the 3 amateur titles, Tiger already has 17 – just 3 sly.

    December 13, 2011 at 12:50 pm | Reply
  26. Rachel Yukitel

    Tiger is the bomb!

    December 14, 2011 at 7:47 am | Reply
  27. Rachel Yukitel

    Tiger is making a comeback. You can do it, Tiger, go, go, go!

    December 14, 2011 at 7:59 am | Reply
  28. Edward

    The enemy of Tiger Woods is Tiger himself!

    December 14, 2011 at 11:16 pm | Reply
  29. Wambui Karago

    I AGREE : your last sentence is so wrong. His cheerleaders don't think he will storm past Jack.
    I cannot tell whether you are biased or not but you are not a foreseer to know who will be in shape. In his time Tiger has dominated . if others come and dominate let it be .
    let us enjoy competitive golf don't dictate to us who will dominate or not . There is a season for for everyone and everything

    December 20, 2011 at 2:26 pm | Reply
  30. NYI nyi

    Honestly, I watch golf tournament " only' Tiger was in it.

    December 20, 2011 at 3:57 pm | Reply
  31. NYI nyi

    I think old time star Greg Norman shut his mouth after the president cup.

    December 20, 2011 at 4:08 pm | Reply
  32. Numyorangay

    Well we saw what happened to Dingue/Poutain Fever McIlroy, and Luke Donald just picked up the residue of twhat juice to get by. . .

    December 21, 2011 at 8:35 pm | Reply
  33. A white guy

    Rory wins a US Open and all of a sudden he's the 2nd coming of Jack, Tiger, Norman, Trevino, Player, and Palmer all in one ? He hasn't done squat – and yes, tiger will dominate again. How many guys have had the kind of "normal" winning season that tiger has had – countless times. None of them !! One tiger season is a career for any touring pro. They have been saying it for years... every time a young group comes along – they are all going to challenge for dominance.They don't have the mental strength that TW has... none of them do. Jack had it – and Tiger has it. You'll see. He'll dominate into his forties.

    December 22, 2011 at 12:50 am | Reply
  34. moekyawthu

    we trust u, u r a tiger.2012 will b yours. pls don't let us down.

    December 22, 2011 at 2:37 pm | Reply
  35. Ricky

    I am neither American or Brit and I must say that the loud-mouthed Irish boy is still a long way off what Tiger has accomplished. Let's wait till he has won enough Majors before hailing him the Tiger killer. I believe Tiger will make a strong comeback in 2012 and continue with his pursuit of Nicklaus's record. If anyone who can do that, it's gonna be Tiger.

    December 25, 2011 at 2:10 am | Reply
  36. Yank

    We'll see how the young Brits will perform in a few years when the real pressure comes on – no one expects much from them now. Just like in tennis with Murray, a pretender, but not the real deal, he is miles behind Federer, Sampras, Agassi, Nadal, etc.

    Everyone likes to put down the guy who has done it.... Good luck Brits...

    December 25, 2011 at 8:08 am | Reply
  37. Clubwww1

    It really is great to see Mr woods achievements recognized for what they truly are...outstanding over a sustained period of time with everyone ting...trying to beat him...extraordinary and it will take a person with extra ordinary skills to equal Mr. woods feats.

    December 27, 2011 at 6:39 am | Reply
  38. stella

    Alex Thomas only one thing wrong with your piece. We watch golf because TW brings excitement to the game without him I'm bored and turn the tv off. I'm a 48 yr old woman who loves to watch golf n only watches when TW's playing...What does that tell you..mmmm

    December 28, 2011 at 2:01 am | Reply
  39. Straight Shot

    Based on past and current form, BMT, mental strength and hunger, there are four contenders vying for top position: Donald, McIlroy, Westwood and Woods. All others are one or two levels behind at present.

    December 28, 2011 at 10:19 am | Reply
  40. John Ziba

    Tiger Woods is the reason I watch golf on TV even staying late till the early hours! Otherwise I get bored when TW isn't playing!Shame to the Brits that even in tennis they're busy touting Andy Murray in the same category as Federer,Agassi etc. Have you noticed that when Andy Murray wins he is referred to as 'British' and when he loses?'Scotish'! Hypocrites,these English. Watch when young McIlroy starts to slide down the scale...

    December 29, 2011 at 6:13 am | Reply
  41. Golfsalty

    Let's talk this time next year!!!!!

    December 30, 2011 at 4:33 am | Reply
  42. Ozymandias

    I think that a lot of guys on tour haven't seen Tiger practicing for so long, and now all of a sudden he's back on the range. The media have constantly written how the Tiger era is over and the new guys will surge past him. I think a lot of his collegues on tour were saying privately, "I wish the media will shut up" because that's going to burn inside Tiger this year. He will prove you guys wrong. For all his terrible transgressions, he hasn't been healthy, his old swing from Haney hurt him and is to blame. My prediction for 2012? Tiger will win 1 or 2 Majors and between 6 and 10 tournaments. However I am looking forward to seeing Rory, Martin, Luke, etc pushing him, it's gunna be a great year of golf!

    January 1, 2012 at 12:47 pm | Reply
  43. Walter

    If all this article will do is make the other guys throw everything they have at TWs, then we are in for a great season of Golf. Ask Norman the guy who wrote off Tiger before the president's cup but still paired him with the best he had....why, they know how good TW still is. And it is that quality that makes people like Alex Thomas write in the first place. When TW was out, you guys still wrote about him even when he wasn't playing and you you can claim to have better golfers yet you can't write a piece without pulling TW in!

    As for Jack's record, I'll wait for Tiger to retire to know if he smashed it.

    January 3, 2012 at 10:22 am | Reply
  44. Ernie D

    Mr. Thomas,

    I would have beleived you if all the things you have said were based of factual events. These Brits or Ires are not even close to what TW has achieved and you already making some noise.

    First of all they are just boring. They were all inspired by one person and that is TW.

    Another thing why you are wrong, itis obvious you are not a good golfer. That is the reason you will be just a writer. Sorry but let us be fair with TW and the rest of the guys.

    Just let them play. Do you know that TW gets an apperance fee of 3M in Abu Dhabi? What does that say????

    January 11, 2012 at 4:27 am | Reply
  45. fred

    Rory has as much talent as TW but has a completely different approach to the game. Rory basically went 'on the p***' after his first major win. Tiger went to the driving range after his. Yet in the season they won their first major , both had 2 wins. Rory played in Asia during the fall, so did not have the same profile as he would have had playing in the US.
    The only thing that concerns me about Rory is that stories outside of golf seem to crop up. He is big on twitter. Tiger in the early days was almost secluded. Everything was about golf. He had 110% focus on winning. Will Rory allow himself to be distracted?
    By the way...Rory is not a Brit. Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom, not Great Britain.

    January 11, 2012 at 10:43 am | Reply
  46. Cindy

    I have watched golf for a long, long time. Only when Tiger started playing did I become excited about watching golf. He brings everything to golf. He will be Number 1 again and will beat Jack's record. I always enjoyed watching Nicklaus play, but it still wasn't and isn't like watching Tiger. You don't need to be a Tiger's cheerleader to know that he will be Number 1 again. As to the rest of the players, none of them bring that excitement to golf and never will.

    January 13, 2012 at 7:23 pm | Reply
  47. Jongsik

    millkdy@frozel yeah right there with you. I only been playing for three years, but I think I've been tghourh a lot in terms of learning about the game. I used to practice so much and try to perfect my swing. Despite all the practices and time I put into game, my score was just stop at around 80. I was like okay I guess I'm not good at this game and pretty much stopped practicing. I just went out to chip and put from time to time. Guess what my score is so much better than before. Yeah you gotta enjoy.

    July 2, 2012 at 12:49 pm | Reply

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