Tiger Woods: New ... But Is He Improved?There are five reasons why
post-op Tiger won't be his old
steely self in 2009. And five
reasons why he will.By Cameron Morfit
1. His Knee
Not Himself: Even Tiger admits his surgically repaired left knee
won't be in tiptop shape until 2010. Remember, Casey
Martin played with a bad right leg, which takes less abuse,
and Ernie Els has never looked the same since rupturing
his left ACL in '05. Tiger's human, and it will take a while to
trust all that swing torque to something man-made.
His Old Self: Puh-leeze! If Woods can win the grueling U.S. Open on one
good leg and one that might snap at any moment, then he
certainly can, and will, win a major or two after the injured
leg has been repaired. So he won't be 100 percent for
a while he'll still be a lot closer to 100 percent than
he was last June.
2 of 5Damian Dovarganes/AP
2. His New Baby
Not Himself: Woods and wife Elin Nordegren are expecting their second
child in late winter. Let's see: The day before Sam Alexis
was born in June 2007, Woods found a way to lose
the U.S. Open at Oakmont. A month later, at the British
at Carnoustie, he duck-hooked his opening tee shot into
Barry Burn on Friday and finished T12.
His Old Self: Baby No. 2 will be no match for the world's No. 1. Behold
Tiger's record starting August 5, '07, when Sam Alexis was
not two months old: He won the WGC-Bridgestone and
the PGA, finished T2 at the Deutsche Bank, then won
the BMW, the Tour Championship, the Target, the
Buick, the WGC-Accenture and Bay Hill. Any questions?
3 of 5Phelan M. Ebenhack/AP
3. His Desire
Not Himself: Winning never gets old ... unless you're Tiger. He knows
he can't top winning the Open on one leg, and
among his sundry business pursuits, he is delving into his third course design. He's had more time than ever
to think about what comes after golf. Such musings
won't help him power through rehab.
His Old Self: Questioning Tiger's hunger is silly. He has a lot going on,
always has, but when it's time to rev up the engine and
perform, he performs. Yeah, it seemed unlikely that
he'd top the 1997 Masters, the 2000 U.S. Open and
the 2000 PGA but he did. Until he wins five more majors
to pass Jack, don't even start talking about complacency.
4 of 5John Biever/SI
4. His Rival
Not Himself: Nope, not Phil. It's Padraig Harrington, who has won three
of the last six majors (to Tiger's two) by perfecting his
Sunday impression of Woods. After turning in Tiger-like
performances in July and August, and having twice
beaten the great one eye-to-eye, PH won't stop making
game-changing putts just because TW is back.
His Old Self: It's one thing for Harrington to shoot 66-66 at the PGA to
nip Sergio at the finish line of a major, but the next time
anyone does that to Woods will be the first. Sure,
Paddy's beaten Tiger twice at the Dunlop Phoenix (2006,
in Japan) and the unofficial Target World Challenge (2002).
What's next, beating Woods at Golden Tee?
5 of 5AP Photo
5. His Protoges
Not Himself: A successful Ryder Cup showing can spur a hot young
player on to win a major (see: Zach Johnson). Having
thrived in the crucible of the Cup, Anthony Kim, Hunter
Mahan, J.B. Holmes and other American talents are far
less likely to crumble in Tiger's presence with a
major in the balance.
His Old Self: Playing well in Louisville may have boosted the confidence of
Kim and Co., but that won't mean much when they find
themselves on the first tee at Augusta, shaking hands
with the greatest player ever. Beating the Man means
not turning into a spectator, and these guys have watched
Woods on TV way more than they've played him in person.More from GOLF.com
• 2009 PGA Tour Preview
• 2008 Year in Review
• Tiger Tracker: The latest news on Tiger Woods
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