For Woods, Tour and FedEx Cup are consolation prizes

Tiger Woods posed with his latest trophy after winning the BMW Classic -- a minor, not a major. (Chicago Tribune photo)

Tiger Woods posed with his latest trophy after winning the BMW Classic -- a minor, not a major. (Chicago Tribune photo)

There is probably something wrong when a golfer has won more tournaments and more money than anybody else on the tour in a given season and you still have to ask the question: Is something wrong? A guy finishes with three firsts and two seconds in his last six events, the next thought on your mind shouldn’t begin, “Yeah, but …”

“I mean, major championships are the biggest events, and unfortunately I didn’t win any of the four,” Tiger Woods said Wednesday. “But as far as the season, it’s certainly been one of my most consistent seasons I’ve ever had. To have this many high finishes, I think it’s pretty good.”

Yeah, but …

We define Tiger Woods differently. That’s his fault. From the time he won his first Masters in 1997, he created a new standard. A ridiculous standard. The whatever-element-is-worshipped-more-than-gold standard.

There is golfer good. Then there is Tiger good. Six wins in the 2009 season: golfer good. Zero majors: Tiger bad.

Is it us? Do we expect too much? Or did we just hear Woods say too often that his success comes down to those four decorated corners of the golfing world that now we’re all so brainwashed?

He is here in Atlanta this week. He can win another tournament. He can win another $11.35 million if he clinches the Tour Championship and the FedEx Cup on Sunday. So the week is not devoid of meaning. I’m just not sure how far north of change-in-the-couch cushions it ranks for Woods.

“I was watching the Golf Channel last night and somebody asked the question, ‘Would Tiger Woods take his six wins or Y.E. Yang’s two, the PGA and his other one [Honda Classic]?’” said Kenny Perry. “I started to think about that, and I think he would take the PGA over the six wins. He’s set the bar so out of control. He and Jack [Nicklaus] always said, majors are everything. That’s how we’re all ruled out here. It’s majors only. That’s how people remember you.”

Woods gave it a late run at the Masters but missed this birdie putt on 12 and couldn't make up a seven-stroke deficit entering Sunday. (Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com)

Woods gave it a late run at the Masters but missed this birdie putt on 12 and couldn't make up a seven-stroke deficit entering Sunday. (Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com)

Is that fair?

“I think so,” said Perry said, and he speaks with some perspective, having lost a playoff in this year’s Masters. “When you play in the majors, you realize how hard they are to win. You realize how difficult the conditions are that are thrown at you. You have the toughest competition. It’s a mental game as well as a physical game. It’s the whole package. To win one would be unbelievable. And he’s won what — 14? He’ll get to 20 before it’s all over. Unbelievable.”

He set this up. He won eight majors by the time he was 26, including three in 2000. He failed to win one in 2003 or 2004. Swings adjustments, we heard, and then he showed us. Over the next four years, he won his fourth Masters, two more British Opens, two more PGAs and a U.S. Open. That gave him 14. We later learned he had played in the 2008 U.S. Open with a torn knee ligament and two stress fractures in his leg. He didn’t play in the final two majors that year. Wimp.

For the most part, he has been the model of consistency this season. He has won six of the 12 non-majors in which he’s played. He has finished in the top 10 in 13 0f 16 tournaments. But in the four that counted most, he finished sixth (Masters), sixth (U.S.), missed cut (British) and second (PGA). He led the PGA after three rounds. But he blew a Sunday lead for the first time, shooting a 75 to lose to Yang by three strokes. It’s only the fourth year since that first Masters he failed to win a major.

He will draw the crowd this week, the sponsors, the ratings. He’s probably even win.

“There are a lot of things at stake,” he said.

Just not what he cherishes most.

16 comments Add your comment

Cuz

September 23rd, 2009
4:41 pm

Win Tiger, the Augusta Economy needs you in winning form by next April.

DREW DOWN

September 23rd, 2009
4:42 pm

ff

September 23rd, 2009
4:43 pm

Enter your comments here. First

otis

September 23rd, 2009
5:51 pm

Enter your comments here You go Tiger. The first Asian-American to win a major, 1997 Augusta.

Huck

September 23rd, 2009
6:41 pm

He is better at what he does than anyone else in the world is at what they do. ‘Nuff said.

Jeff Schultz

September 23rd, 2009
7:36 pm

Cuz — somehow I think the Masters might sell out whether Tiger wins or loses. Just a hunch.

NRBQ

September 23rd, 2009
9:02 pm

Nice, Jeff.

I’ve been a sports fan longer than I care to admit, and Huck nailed it.

No athlete I’ve ever seen possessed his ability to perform at a level to which no other player would even aspire.

The dry-witted Paul Goydos was asked how he felt about the media’s constant fawning over Tiger. He said, “Tiger’s the most under-rated player on the planet.”

By the way, the National doesn’t “sell” tickets. They allow a limited, lucky number to buy them at stupid-low prices. Fortunes have been made re-selling them.

greg

September 24th, 2009
7:57 am

Drew Down and ff are idiots…you read this guys. Tiger Woods is the greatest athlete in the history of sport.

All I'm Saying Is...

September 24th, 2009
8:41 am

Use to be that all you sought as a PGA Tour Professional (especially an American) was to earn your card and to keep it by winning every couple of years or so to maintain your exemption (ex. Andy Bean, Mark O’Meara before Tiger joined the Tour).

Then, it was considered heaven if you did the above and won one major (ex. Andy North, Fred Couples). Because by keeping your card and then winning that one major, you could play less, make a good living by doing the Monday corporate outings with your sponsors and other fans whose legs would turn to jelly just getting to meet you, and get into the golf course design business thanks to the emblem of being a major championship winner.

Most golfers considered multi-major winners like Arnie, Jack, Lee Trevino, Tom Watson, Johnny Miller, etc. as other-worldly types and that none of them could do what they had done and they didn’t have to nor wanted to try and win multiple majors—and certainly would never voice that opinion.

Then Tiger came along and said words like ‘I play to win every time I play’ and ‘I want to win majors and win more majors than Tom or Jack’. Thanks to learning the game at an early age and getting taught the right way as well as receiving mental toughness from his ex-Green Beret dad, Tiger was playing well and winning as a kid, obviously loved the sport given how hard he continues to work on his game despite all the money he has, and has never looked back starting with his three U.S. Amateur majors (yes, they are majors and Jack has one too even though none are included in the major totals for Jack or Tiger).

So Kenny Perry is right in that golfers are ultimately judged by how they do in the majors but you use to only need to win one to secure your place in PGA history.

LET’S GO TIGER!!!!!

(By the way, we golf fans are out here in cyberspace, Jeff, so don’t be discouraged that your post hasn’t generated that many comments. We’re just not use to folks at AJ/C asking us for an opinion about anything not resembling the usual suspects: Falcons, Braves, UGA, G-TECH, etc..)

lilikindsli

October 1st, 2009
7:16 am

EvdtFu I want to say – thank you for this!

Globals

October 3rd, 2009
6:58 am

all good things

Zeari

October 5th, 2009
9:41 am

Great. Now i can say thank you!,

Draemma

October 5th, 2009
10:18 am

Great site. Keep doing.,

порно онлайн

October 22nd, 2009
3:01 pm

Класс добавил в избранное!

порно ролики

October 23rd, 2009
11:27 am

Спасибо конечно … но …

порно онлайн

October 31st, 2009
7:37 pm

Спасибо