‘sup? It’s ur boy BennyGloves back and well rested. Time for more content, content, content…
So I was talking with Le Cap the other day trying to figure out what to blog after killing it with the NFL Postseason Coverage. We realized that HTTA was missing some serious GOLF coverage which is crazy considering that the HTTA fellas include everything from duffers to scratch players. It may be 39 degrees, raining and grey out today but in Benny’s mind he can already smell the azaleas at Augusta National. So let’s mark our ball from behind and go spoil an otherwise enjoyable walk…
Ur boy Benny is going to start our golf coverage in the only place he can and on the only topic that has been the center of the Golfing Universe since 1996, with a discussion of Eldrick “Tiger” Woods.
Tiger’s career accomplishments are truly astounding. His 79 wins on the PGA tour are good for 2nd most all time. He is the 11 time PGA tour player of the year, 10 times he was the tour’s leading money winner, and he has won the Byron Nelson Award for lowest adjusted scoring average 8 times. Woods has spent the most consecutive and cumulative weeks atop the world rankings.
Of course Tiger has famously asked to only be judged by his Major Championships, and there too he has been historic. His 14 Majors are second all time to Jack Nicklaus. He is one of only five players ever to have won all four Majors at least once. In fact he and Nicklaus are the only two players to have achieved the career Grand Slam 3 times. For good measure he was the youngest to the career Grand Slam and invented the “Tiger Slam” by being the only player to ever win all four in the same year.
And these mind blowing numbers, don’t even begin to do Tiger justice. Woods is 14-1 when going into the final round of a major with at least a share of the lead and frankly he scared the crap out of his closest “competitors”. His 12 stroke victory at the ’97 Masters caused them to redesign the most famous golf course in America. His win in the 2000 US Open at Pebble by 15 strokes is the largest margin of victory in any Major ever. And while most remember his 2008 US Open victory at Torrey pines for the fact that he won in a playoff on a BROKEN LEG, I like to remember that Woods needed to birdie the 18th to tie both in regulation and in the playoff. If you can’t close your eyes right now and picture Tiger in his famous Sunday red Nike shirt fist pumping his way to another win then you probably don’t own a TV.
There are more golfers today, from more backgrounds, watched by more people, playing on more courses, using better equipment, to post lower scores and make more money simply because Tiger Woods existed. If you don’t think the Tiger Effect is real check out this old chart from ESPN comparing TV viewership with and without Woods:
Simply put Tiger Woods was Golf, and if you had asked 2008 Benny if Tiger would have blown past the Golden Bear in Major wins the answer would have been an empathetic Yes! But we all know what’s happened since then. Starting with a surgery to fix that broken leg, Tiger has been known more for off the course events. Multiple surgeries and highly publicized issues in his personal life have lead to lengthy layoffs from the Game and greatly diminished performances. Improbably that ’08 US Open remains Tiger’s last Major Championship.
So here we are with the 2018 Masters rapidly approaching, so many great players in the Game today and Woods coming off his 4th back surgery (spinal fusion) but still all anyone wants to know is does Tiger have a chance? Coming into this weekend’s Honda Classic (which ur boy is watching while blogging, btw Woods is 3 under and 4 shots off the pace) Tiger had only played 10 rounds of competitive golf. Woods himself has talked about needing to get consistency back in his game, a consistency that can only come from playing tournament golf. It’s encouraging that he is showing a willingness to play back to back weeks. But as this info, once again from ESPN, will show the results have been “meh”:
Fairways hit 13 of 28
Greens hit 16 of 36
Finish Missed Cut (+6)
Fairways hit 17 of 56
Greens hit 42 of 72
Finish T-23 (-3)
There is actually some hope for Woods in these numbers. The short game is okay which you wouldn’t expect given all his time away from the game. He has struggled with the Driver, but Augusta National can be forgiving with those types of mistakes. It also bears watching that Woods has recently switched his driver from a Taylor Made M2 to the new M3 and gone back to a stiffer shaft, due to “increased swing speed”. So a little more time working with his new equipment and Augusta’s wide fairways could straighten out his long game. It is actually his iron play that seems to concern Tiger the most.
“One of my hallmarks of my whole career is I’ve always hit the ball pin high with my iron shots, and I have not done that,” he said. “My wedge game is fine, but my normal iron shots that I’ve always had dialed in for much of my career … it’s just not there.”
Strong iron play is a must for success at the Masters. He has a few weeks and maybe 2 or 3 more tournaments to try and straighten out his irons, tweak his new equipment and get into tournament shape. Since his first Masters start as a pro in 1997, Woods has been outside of the top 20 just three times. And since his last victory in 2005 at Augusta, he has still managed seven top-6 finishes. Shoot he finished in the top 20 as recently as 2015. So how will he do? I have no idea, but you can be sure that I and everyone else will be tuned in to find out, and we here at HTTA will have it covered.