Today was the first day you could really feel the days getting longer and the sun having that first sense of an attitude that will only grow in the coming months. It’s been a really weird winter here in the Valley of the Sun: my pool guy says he’s been living here for 30 years and doesn’t remember anything like it. We’ve had a lot of clouds, rain, and cold (at least for these parts), but while the days have been below normal – running sometimes as much as ten degrees less – we haven’t had a night yet that dropped below freezing. One would think below-normal days would lead to below-normal nights, but my twelve-foot ladder and the cactus coverings are still in the garage. And since we’re on the cusp of February and when the average daily temperatures start going up – well, we’ll just chalk it up to one very strange winter here in the Valley of the Sun.
Tiger Woods missed the cut on his return to the PGA Tour at the Farmers Insurance Open, and most folks – rightly so – are chalking up his sub-par performance to rust and the need for more reps. CBS color analyst Sir Nick Faldo expressed his concerns about Tiger being able to have enough flexibility in his back to be able to hit the low fade that he showed to great effect on a couple of occasions. My view is that Tiger’s swing looks like that of someone with a bad back, and I don’t think he’s even walking that great. Tiger’s problem is that he’s up against a new generation of golfer that someone at his age and health history won’t be able to come close to matching. That PGA Tour commercial with the slogan, “these guys are good” ought to be changed to, “these guys are so f***ing good that it might as well be a different sport they are playing”.
That’s what Tiger is trying to compete with.
As much as I appreciate Tiger’s contribution to the game, the fact is he’s one awkward stance or swing away from doing irreparable damage to his back, and if he’s thinking he can compete with this generation of golfers he’s deluding himself. Were he perfectly healthy? Yeah, maybe. But he’s no longer the Tiger of old. The media might puddle themselves whenever he makes a great shot, but the fact is the kids he’s playing against can all make that same shot, and a heck of a lot more times over the course of a round than Tiger now can. This isn’t to say that Tiger couldn’t catch lightning in a bottle over a given weekend and briefly turn the clock back to his era of greatness, but the chances of that are, frankly, not that good – there are simply too many good players out there. Between the caliber of the competition, the slow pace of play that now seems the norm (no friend to someone with a bad back), and Father Time and his health history, I’m predicting that Tiger won’t make it through the year without suffering a career-ending injury. I understand why he’s attempting this comeback; I just think he’s fooling himself. It’s a different game now – ironically, thanks to Tiger; he just doesn’t realize it yet.