Thursday, February 07, 2008

Tiger to Win Slam

Okay, I’ve seen enough. Officially, this could be the year that Tiger Woods writes golf history by winning the Grand Slam.

Don’t bore me with the odds against Woods actually doing it, and don’t bother blathering on about the near-possibility of it all. I know that. But I have also seen the light and the truth and the way – and it’s Woods with a golf club in his hands.

Have you seen the way the man has started 2008?

How about an never-was-even-close eight-shot victory two weeks ago at the Buick Invitational in San Diego, his first tournament of the year? And how about his win Sunday at the Dubai Desert Classic, where he shot 65 in the final round to come from four shots back?

That makes for five wins in his last five tournaments, including the PGA Championship (his 13th major) and the Tour Championship at the end of last year. He has won seven of his last eight, the lone blemish on his record being a tie for second at the Deutsche Bank Championship. Woods’ command of his game is back, bigger than ever. So is his swagger. Not to put too fine a point on it, but the man owns golf.

Which brings us to Grand Slam. For years after Woods had that amazing stretch over 2000-01, when he held all four titles at one time, we began each new season with chatter about how that year might be the year for a Grand Slam.

Most years, the talked ended early, when Woods would fail to win the first major of the year, the Masters. Remember, of his four Masters titles, only one was in the last five years, in 2005.
Some years, Woods’ game just wasn’t there, as he twice retooled his swing. Other years, the venues for the majors just weren’t right for Woods.

This year, the stars are in alignment more than ever, and not even Woods is discouraging Slam speculation.

“I think it’s easily within reason,” Woods said during the end of his most recent monthly newsletter on his Web site.

Pressed by the media at the Buick, Woods didn’t back down. “The question is, do I see it as a possibility, and I say yes,” he said.

A fifth green at the Masters in April would ratchet up the chatter. The way his is playing, who in his right mind would bet against Woods at Augusta National, a course that is virtually built for his power game and towering irons shots. He is also the best clutch putter in the game.

For that matter, who would bet against Woods to win his third U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, the same course where he just dominated at yet another Buick Invitational.

True, the U.S. Golf Association will make Torrey Pines much tougher course for the Open. Still, not only has Woods won the Buick there six times, including the last four in a row, he even won a World Junior there as a kid.

If he is two-for-two going into the British Open, the plot thickens. The last time Royal Birkdale hosted the British Open was in 1998, when Woods was in only his second full year as a pro. He finished third at Birkdale, with the Claret Jug going to his buddy Mark O’Meara. While Birkdale is not one of the great British Open sites, Woods like it enough and that’s all that matters.

If he’s three-for-three after the British, the build up for the PGA Championship at Oakland Hills Country Club near Detroit will be nothing short of insane.

Woods’ could have bad memories about Oakland Hills. The last time he was there was for a pummeling in the 2004 Ryder Cup. Of course, those bad memories have more to do with Captain Hal Sutton’s pairings than with the golf course.


Anonymous said...

If there was anything else going on in GolfWorld, I would chide you for being way too premature. Unfortunately, there's just nothing else at all going on to talk about unless Woods is actually playing. Phil Mickelson should have an easy win this week, since the field isn't very strong, so I guess we can pretend that he's getting ready to mount a challenge.
As far as predicting a Grand Slam, I can't do it because the margins of victory are too slim just to assume that a couple of water balls or wayward shots or putts that just miss won't derail the grand slam train. Obviously he's the favorite for each major, I just can't commit to getting on the grand slam express.

philcali said...

This is a long post, but PLEASE read it since I believe it will spark much interest in my theory.

This addresses Tiger Woods' domination and his comparison to Jack Nicklaus as the greatest of all time.

From the time Jack turned pro until he retired from the tour, he competed against 11 players who won MULTIPLE Major Championships.

Tiger Woods has currently competed against 6 players who have done the same during his pro tenure. Granted, Woods has a long way to go, but I would like to see the total number of his competitors with multiple majors when he is between 46-50 (similar to when Jack won his last major).

Here's my point. I say the top-tier competition Woods competes against today is inferior to when Jack played. Reason? The stat I posed above, which is incomplete, but this one as well: There may be overall better players today, but there are fewer GREAT players today than when Jack played.

Consider this: Tiger plays against a field of mostly good players and a FEW great ones. Jack played against a field with fewer good players but MORE great players.

If Tiger has an off day or is equaled by a competitor, the gap between the good players and great players is short where any one of these category players has a chance to overtake him. Thus, the field is essentially 'watered down' after you consider Woods. Tiger has a FEWER number of great players to beat.

If Jack had had an off day, the lesser players were less likely to challenge him, but there were MORE great players with a chance to beat him. Therefore Jack was more likely finishing 2nd (19 times to be exact) to a GREAT player than a good one. On the other hand, Tiger is more likely finishing 2nd to a good player, not a great one.

I'd be interested in any comments to this research and contention.

Best regards,


Joe Logan said...

Nicklaus has no bigger fan than me, and I am old enough to have followed him in his prime. However, I believe the flaw in your logic is this: The reason 11 players were able to win multiple majors was because Nicklaus, for all he did, didn't dominant like Tiger does today. Tiger is, in effect, three years ago of Nicklaus. Tiger won his 13th major at the age of 31; Nicklaus won his 13th when he was 35. The way Tiger is playing right now, how many majors do you think he will have won by the time he is 35?

Anonymous said...

What do you think Tiger Woods Chances are now .... since he is not even playing golf .... maybe zero. One should just let the history unfold rather than just living in a world of fiction. Its too bad you are not stock broker because then you might actually have a need to make predictions based on total bs.