Boy, golf media is one fickle group. The drastic turnaround in their attitude towards Tiger Woods is entertaining to watch, but leaves them with very little integrity left. In addition, their analysis is in my mind generally incorrect.
The big question is usually phrased along the lines of “When will Tiger win again?” or “Is Tiger playing well enough to win?”. Most of the answers I hear are “Don’t know” and a resounding “No”. I think this is a result of the commentators being blinded by Tiger’s history of incredible excellence rather than an objective look at statistics, and I personally disagree strongly to both answers.
My answers would be “It could be any given week” and “Yes, definitely”.
If you look at Tiger’s recent performance, and ignore the fact that the stats are for him, you’ll find the following:
- Five top ten finishes in his last nine tournaments, going back to the end of last year.
- Finishes of T4, T10, T24, and T33 in his last four tournaments prior to his premature withdrawal from The Players.
Just looking at those numbers, not knowing the player, you would definitely say that he’s playing well enough to win. Players with much poorer track records win touraments all the time.
To further dissect his game we can look at his stats for the year.
- He ranks 13:th in GIRs, in spite of being 186:th in total driving. This tells me his ballstriking is better than people give him credit for.
- This is confirmed by him being 1:st in approaches from 125-150 yards (when it comes to distance from the pin), and 4:th in approaches from 150-175 yards.
- He’s 25:th in scoring average.
- I found this particularly interesting: He’s 17:th in scoring average before the cut, and 19:th in scoring average on Sunday. This is offset by a third round scoring ranking of 174:th.
So, his iron play and scrambling is solid. Even with his poor driving and putting he’s been scoring reasonably. All he needs is for one of those two elements to improve just a little bit and he’ll be competing every week as we’re used to.
Having said that, if you look at the OWGR (http://www.officialworldgolfranking.com/players/bio.sps?ID=5321&name=Tiger&Rank=13&TotalPts=194.27487) you will see that his drop in ranking will continue even more rapidly going forward if he doesn’t start winning. Nine of the next thirteen events that are going to drop off the formula are either first or second place finishes.
At the beginning of the season I predicted that Tiger will win this year, and that he will win the PGA Championship. I’m sticking with this prediction.
Keep’em in the short stuff.