Tiger Woods has been struggling ever since his miracle comeback win at The Masters. The hype around that one — Woods’ fifth win at Augusta — will go down as the stuff of legend in the history books.
However, the 43-year-old golfer has been seemingly out of sight and out of mind since April. Woods last played in a major tournament almost a month ago at the U.S. Open and finished a disappointing 21st place at Pebble Beach. He has only participated in two other tournaments since his electrifying Masters’ win, including a ninth-place finish at the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village and missing the cut at the PGA Championship in May at Bethpage. He’s barely been seen or heard, other than his appearance at the White House to accept the Presidential Medal of Freedom from his buddy Donald Trump.
Now, mere days away from the start of The Open at Royal Portrush in Ireland, many analysts are counting the 15-times major winner out. Former golfer and lead analyst for NBC Sports Paul Azinger made a bold statement over the weekend when he told the New York Post he didn’t think Woods would ever win another golf tournament. Azinger has sensed a level of contentment that he’s never seen before from Woods and called his big win at The Masters the “cherry on top of the cake.”
“I am not quite as high on Tiger as I was before he won The Masters, because of the mountain-top experience,” Azinger told The Post. “I’m never going to count Tiger out of the majors. He won the Masters. [But] it felt like it made him too content. It’s the most content I’ve ever seen him. Tiger has never looked satisfied.
“Don’t get me wrong, he’s [been] happy in the moment, celebrating big shots. But the next day, he’s moving on. This Masters, he’s not moving on yet. That was such a mountain-top experience, I think it’s going to be hard for Tiger to ever win anything again.
“That was almost like the cherry on top of the cake. That’s what it looks like, what it felt like. I hope it’s not the cherry on top of the cake.”
Woods has also come under fire from fellow PGA Tour player Padraig Harrington for a perceived lack of seriousness. The Irishman openly questioned why Woods hadn’t participated in at least one or two tournaments leading up to The Open.
“I personally think if you’re serious about winning the Open you’ve got to be playing tournament golf at least before it,” Harrington said.
Former Ryder Cup Captain Calls Tiger Woods Out
Paul McGinley is another former player turned analyst who slammed Woods’ chances of winning The Open this week at Royal Portrush. McGinley, who captained the 2014 European Ryder Cup team, said that “he wouldn’t rush to put any money on Tiger Woods.” He cited a lack of enough competitive rounds since winning The Masters and pondered out loud whether there was something physically wrong with Woods.
“I wouldn’t rush to put any money on Tiger Woods,” McGinley wrote in a column for the Sunday Times, via Golf.com. “I don’t understand what’s going on with the Masters champion. Since April, he has entered just one tournament outside the majors — the Memorial in late May. That is bizarre. There must be something physically amiss we don’t know about because even in the zenith of his career 20 years ago he couldn’t have expected to contend for the big championships with so few competitive rounds under his belt.”
Woods has won The Open on three different occasions, with the most recent victory coming in 2006. On Sunday, he played his first practice round at Royal Portrush and dismissed the notion that he had any rust or needed a few more tournaments under his belt. Woods has played just 10 tournament rounds since winning at Augusta in April. He confirmed he used the time off to enjoy a trip to Thailand with his family, never once taking a golf club out of his bag.
“The clubs stayed in the travel case,” Woods told reporters, via The Guardian. “Like I told you guys, I wouldn’t touch them. I didn’t do a damn thing. I putted as soon as I got back and then built it up from there.”
The first round of the 148th Open Championship begins on Thursday, July 18 at Royal Portrush in Ireland. Tee times haven’t been announced, but coverage begins at 9 a.m. on Golf Channel.