Back in July, our golf expert wrote an article proclaiming that Tiger Woods was officially done. Erledigt. Termine. Fatto.
Today, as we sit on the eve of his probable second straight missed cut at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic in the United Arab Emirates, it is time for golf fans to re-adjust their image of Tiger Woods.
Tiger has been through a lot. Whether it was multiple back surgeries, knee injuries, multiple sex scandals, or his extremely public divorce, it is safe to say that a lot has changed since his last major win at the U.S. Open in 2008. However, after a significant amount of time out of competitive golf, the 14-time major champion returned and appeared to be ready to get back to his winning ways.
Unfortunately, the old Tiger is gone, probably forever. He will no longer be smashing the ball 350 yards down the fairway or winning majors by five or ten strokes. Golf has changed, thanks to Tiger, and the field has become far more competitive. But that is besides the point. Players like Henrik Stenson have showed fans and analysts that you can win without hitting the ball the longest in the field.
Ultimately, this is what Tiger needs to do. Instead of trying to gain that extra 20 or 30 yards, elect to hit a 3 wood and keep it out of the rough. While driving the ball is sexy and flashy, being able to put the ball within ten feet of the hole from the rough is nearly impossible, especially if you are 41 years old. Tiger has shown his short irons, wedges, and putter, while not on display in Dubai, are still at an elite level and could ultimately win him some tournaments.
Tiger can still win. Plain and simple. If Woods can stay healthy, there is no reason to think he will not shake off the rust and start shooting rounds under par. However, Tiger needs to change his game from simple raw power to a more finesse approach.
All that should matter to Woods and his cult-like fan base is staying healthy and playing into the weekend as The Masters approaches.