A Very American Coup By Michael – Louis Ingram, Editor-in-Chief...
Tiger: Can He Come Back
Tiger Woods is now the second greatest golfer in history with 14 majors and 79 tour victories. Woods career was never about being number two but being the best in golf history, to win 19 majors or more. At 37 years and five years drought after winning his last major, those dreams are looking more distance. From the time Woods won his first major in 1997 and through 2008, he won 14 majors and Jack Nickolas record look in jeopardy. Now, the question that is being asked, can Woods win another major.
Arnold Palmer was the swashbuckling golfer who helped popularize Golf in the early 60’s with his aggressive play and legion of followers known as “Arnie’s Army.” Between 1958 and 1962, he won seven majors but after his victory at the 1962 Open, he never won another major. For four years, he was golf’s best, but he would soon be dwarfed by Jack Nicklaus. Palmer never won a major after his 32nd birthday and that was the same age that Tiger was when he won his last major. In the Tennis world, John McEnroe won seven majors in a five year period between 1979 and 1984 but after his 1984 US Open victory, he never another major. He reached his peak at 25.
Contrast this to Phil Mickelson, who at the age 32 was consider the greatest golfer never to win a major but at the age of 33, he would win his first major and he won his fifth major this past year at the age of 43. Tennis star Andre Agassi won the majority of his eight majors after he turned 29. And the great Jack Nicklaus won major tournaments in three decades starting with the US Open in 1962 and his last major, the Masters in 1986. He won his first major at 22 and his last at 46 years.
So the question that remains, can Tiger regain that magic that made him the dominant player between 1997 thru 2008 or will he simply be like John McEnroe or Arnold Palmer and be a meteor that rose and fell quickly back to earth? Or will Tiger find a fountain of youth and make the push for the magical 19?
Andre Agassi made an adjustment to his game and his training regimen as he climbed out of slump that lasted from 1996 after a brilliant 1995 season thru 1999. Mickelson never played well at the British Open but this year, he played Scottish Open before going to play the Open and he adjusted his game to fit the British links. Nicklaus made his adjustments as he got older and this allowed him to compete over a three decade period.
The key to Woods is both mental and physical. While Woods is still a remarkable athlete but as Athletes get older, they must make adjustments to Father Time. And there is the mental part of the game as the mental toughness that allowed Woods to dominate is no longer there. Woods has won four tournaments this year but he has collapsed in Majors, something he rarely did at this peak.
Woods has the physical tool to make a run and as both Nicklaus and Mickelson have shown, one can still play with the best in one’s forties in golf and Woods has been one of the most physical athlete to hit the links. Woods stands as the second best golfer in the game history but at 37, can he make the push to leave the game as it greatest?