If we haven’t learned anything else about Tiger Woods this year, we have found out he is, after all, human. In his five PGA Tour wins this year, when his putter was on, he was winning, when nothing was falling, he wasn’t. During his T 37 performance at The Honda Classic, he received a putting tip from his buddy, Steve Stricker, and then beat him the following week at The WGC-Cadillac with it. I wonder, now that Tiger is again struggling with the flat stick, is another tip coming from Stricks?
Even though Woods finished T 2 at the Barclays a couple of weeks ago, if his putter had been working, I feel like the first leg of the FedEx Cup playoffs would have been his for the taking. It became very apparent at TPC Boston that he was clearly struggling on the greens again.
He watched in amazement as putt after putt burned the edges, was too short, or was blowing it by the hole, and grinding over the putt for par. I grinned when he was putting at the 72nd hole on Monday afternoon, and thought “he’s probably going to make this one now that he doesn’t care anymore” and he didn’t even make that one. He looked completely lost.
The one asset I love about Tiger Woods is his never give up attitude. And like the trooper Earl Woods raised, he never gave up on his way to a T 65 finish. It cost him the number one spot going into The BMW next week, and if he doesn’t correct the problem soon, his third FedEx Cup.
There are two scenarios that go into the putting stats, and the first comes from iron play. Tiger struggled last year with his wedge play, and appeared to have that leak plugged when the season got underway back in January. The strength of his five victories came on the shoulders of his wedge game. He was dropping the ball into the right positions, and getting great looks at birdies.
Although he is number one on the PGA Tour in scoring average, the wedge part of his game has started to crumble over the past couple of weeks. I don’t know whether his back problems are playing a role here, or at 37 years-old, he is just getting tired.
The other problem I see, is his inability to adjust to green speeds. The constantly changing conditions at TPC Boston that were due to the weather left Tiger Woods scratching his head on almost every green. He just looked like a lost puppy who was trying to find anything that might work, and it wasn’t.
As the clear-cut favorite going into these playoffs, Tiger Woods could well be in some trouble as we get down to the nityt-gritty. If he wants that third FedEx Cup on his mantle, and the huge check that comes with it, he is going to need an adjustment soon. There are too many players who are peaking, and will prove to be a test for the world’s number one golfer to overcome.
With Tiger’s buddy Steve Stricker lurking back in eighth position, and his sights set on a Trophy and big check of his own, I don’t see help coming from that direction. Who knows where the help comes from, but it needs to hurry!