Woods is not done yet

2010-11-14 16:16

As with everything concerning Tiger Woods, once one question is answered, another soon follows.

When will Woods lose his number one world ranking?

That answer came earlier this month when Lee Westwood ended Woods’ unbelievable record of 623 weeks as world number one.

Now the next question being asked is: Is this the end of Tiger Woods?

The answer is no.

It is far too early to suggest that Woods is a spent force at the highest level of the game and will not win another Major.

And as the history of golf has proved, it would be dangerous to say so.

Woods will be 35 this December. In golf this is hardly old.

And at Major championship level, where all of the focus is on that
other eternal question of Woods being able to beat Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 Majors, Woods still has a shot at it.

By the age of 33 Nicklaus had won 12 Majors. Woods is ahead of the game here, having won 14 Majors by the same age.

But Nicklaus won his final six Majors at age 35 and over, which suggests that Woods still has some time left.

Walter Hagen, the third-best on the all-time list of Major winners with 11, won his final three aged 35 years and over.

Gary Player won five of his nine Majors aged 33 and over. And Ben Hogan won every single one of his nine Majors aged 34 and over.

But another question is: If Woods still has the time, is he still capable of beating Nicklaus’ record?

Player has the simple answer to this one. “If he fixes his backswing.”

Player believes that Woods has the mental ability to overcome everything he has suffered on and off the course, but fixing a poor backswing is where his immediate priority should be.

Woods finished 2010 without a PGA Tour win for the first time in 15 years but it’s not the first time he’s suffered a slump.

In 2003 similar questions were being asked as to whether Woods had burnt out. That’s when he returned from knee surgery for the first time.

But no golfer has been impervious to a loss of form. Nicklaus suffered two stretches in his career when he failed to win a single Major. One lasted 12 Majors and another 10 ­Majors.

Woods has been here before.

After the 2002 US Open he didn’t win another Major until the 2005 Masters. But then he won five ­Majors up to his last one, the 2008 US Open.

There is no doubt that what was once considered an eventuality in Woods roaring past Nicklaus’ record has now become less of a certainty.

And as much as Nicklaus admires Woods and has long predicted he would surpass his record, you have to believe that Jack is probably also muttering to himself, “Now the game is really on, Mr Woods”.

And knowing Woods, he’s definitely up for the fight.

The reason is simple. Woods never measured himself against being world number one, which he first achieved at the age of 21 on June 15 1997.

“Winning takes care of everything,” he’s always said.

Sure, it stings that he’s lost the top spot in the game. But that was never his yardstick. Beating Nicklaus has always defined Tiger Woods.

Now into the back nine of his ability to achieve his goal, this will be Woods’ final push for the ultimate legacy in the game.

Can he still do it?

Maybe this is a Tiger Woods question that only Tiger Woods can ever ­answer.

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