The worlds best golfers gather this week at Royal Liverpool for the sports oldest tournament and the biggest story is that Tiger will be competing in his first major since his back surgery 4 months ago. Tiger claims to be in good shape and ready to take on the field.
Tiger Woods has been stuck at 14 and that may change this weekend, 14 majors that is. In his quest to chase Jack Nicklaus’s 18 major championships, Woods has never fallen behind in milestones to reach the goal in 14 years and if he fails to lift the Claret jug on Sunday, he will. That means that in Nicklaus’s 35 year he won The Open Championship as his 15th major win and Tiger (also in his 35th year) must win this weekend to stay on track.
The last time The Open Championship was at Royal Liverpool was in 2006. Tiger Woods avoided nearly every deep walled fairway bunker and made very key puts to win his 11th major at the time, just two months after his father, Earl, passed away.
This time he has to to have the same precision as he did back then.
The only problem is that he is four months out of back surgery. It’s not like he hasn’t played through an injury before, “The Sunday before the U.S. Open, I didn’t break 50 for nine holes and still was able to win it in a playoff, with a torn A.C.L. and a broken leg,” That was the last major championship he won back in 2008. The difference between now and then is that this injury is 6 years after his last major championship.
I think that Tiger has it in him to win this weekend but the one thing that will be standing in his way is his putting. His putting percentage inside 5 feet is 94.7%. That is decreasing since 2006 when he was 97.1%. Although 95% may seem high it really isn’t. If you’re hitting the greens but miss 1 or 2 five-foot putts, that can mean the difference between -6 and a -4 or even a -2 (depending on if it is for an eagle or not).
My better judgement is that Tiger makes the cut but falls victim to symptoms of recovery from surgery and finishes outside the top 10.
But for some reason I have the feeling that this may be the turnaround tournament he needs. He says that although he missed the cut at Congressional a few weeks back, he made positive strides. I feel that Tiger will finish in the top 5 if not first.
I would certainly hope that he wins at Royal Liverpool not only for his sake but for the sake of the sport. Now that Lebron made his decision ESPN has been struggling to find things to talk about, and if Tiger Woods lifts the Claret Jug on Sunday, they will certainly have something to talk about.