Tiger Woods’ win in the Farmers Insurance Open on Jan. 28 was the 75th of his career and the eighth at Torrey Pines. The latter is just one reason why this win will not be an indicator of future success this season for Woods.
Do not get me wrong: Woods is still one of the top five golfers in the world. But he has won at Torrey Pines eight times. The course was just made for Woods to dominate; it is not very often that you can hit less than 60 percent of fairways in regulation and still finish 14 under par.
Woods’ short game made up for his bad shots off the tee, and at Torrey Pines you can get away with that. He finished with two bogeys and a double in the last five holes and was still able to cruise to a four-stroke win. Merion, the site of the 2013 U.S. Open, is not nearly as forgiving.
And really, that is all we care about: How many more majors can Woods win before he retires? Last year he had three wins on tour, but only one top 10 in a major – a third place at the British Open.
Until he is at the final hole of a major, all of the camera bulbs flashing in the background and all of the fans waiting for his putt to drop and he overcomes it to win, no one can call what he has done since 2010 a success. Not because he has not shown an ability to play elite-level golf at times, but because he has not lived up to the expectations he has put on himself for a consistent stretch.
This is also not the same tour it was in 1999-2009 when Woods seemingly dominated almost every tournament he decided to show up to. There are infinitely more good young golfers that can compete on the same level that Woods is currently playing at – which is not the level of golf we saw from him in the aforementioned stretch.
Guys like Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Adam Scott, Bubba Watson and Jason Dufner collectively represent a level of consistent competition that Woods just has not faced before. And they are not scared to go head-to-head with him in the final round of a tournament like much of Woods’ competition was in the mid-2000s.
We also cannot ignore some of the off-course distractions Woods might encounter this year. Last year, it seemed like he was solely focused on golf and he was clearly a better player than he was in 2011 or 2010. There have been rumors lately of Woods dating Lindsey Vonn, even traveling to Europe to see her. Other reports have him trying to get back with Elin Nordegren. Sometimes it is tough to buy into off-course issues affecting an athlete’s play for the worse, but we have already seen that it does for Woods.
Finally, let us not forget that it was just a week before the win at Torrey Pines that he failed to even make the cut at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship. So if we are to predict future success for Woods, we simply cannot use this tournament as an accurate baseline for what we should expect from him for the rest of the year.u