STATE OF TIGER'S GAME
Morfit: Tiger Woods missed the cut for just the eighth time as a professional. Given his victory at Bay Hill, and his T40 and worst-ever finish as a pro at the Masters, this was being billed as the rubber match for Tiger. What conclusions can we draw from his MC?
Bamberger: A life at the crossroads. His golf talent is still there. I'm wondering if golf means much to him right now. I wonder, too, if the Haney book stole a piece of his soul, just as the scandal did. And I would say all this even if he wins the Players.
Van Sickle: I'd say Tiger is stuck in the intersection between mechanics and muscle memory. Seems like he's got too many swing thoughts going to play his best golf.
Godich: He's lost. And now he heads to a course that isn't exactly suited for him. Things could get worse before they get better.
Morfit: Tiger's last two starts suggest he's like a lot of Tour pros now. He'll win every once in a while, but he won't necessarily understand why, and he won't necessarily be able to carry any of that momentum into the next week.
Bamberger: I don't agree. He's nothing like other Tour pros. He won Bay Hill by five. It's not the kind of place you can run from the field. He's Tiger Woods. He has a reservoir of memories of shots played liked nobody playing today. But that doesn't mean anything if your head's not into it. Maybe it is, or maybe it will come and go.
Morfit: Tiger isn't the only Tour pro who can distance himself from the field. David Toms, whose game is nothing like Tiger's, was absolutely unbeatable at the WGC-Match Play one year. Woods is unlike other golfers in that he'll always be able to generate more excitement, but I don't put much into that five-shot win at Bay Hill, especially not now.
Van Sickle: Tiger's consistency was beyond belief once upon a time. Now his inconsistency is beyond belief.
Godich: He won at Bay Hill after playing in the Tavistock Cup on Monday and Tuesday of that week. I'll say it again: He needs to play more and practice less. He has lost his feel for the game. Forget the mechanics. Get back to playing golf.
Lipsey: So he's like the rest of us.
Hanger: The only thing I can draw from Tiger's performance is that I have no idea what to expect from him every time out. At Bay Hill, he looked like he had it figured out, but now he's back to looking like he has no idea where the ball is going, and no confidence in his swing.
Ritter: At this point in his career, he's playing like many other better-than-average pros -- some weeks he's got it, some weeks he doesn't. I wouldn't be surprised if he wins another event this year. But I'd be stunned if it clicks for him this week at the Players.
Gorant: He says he's fighting the old swing while trying to ingrain the new one, and that's holding him back. After that it's all guesswork.
Shipnuck: The uncertainties in his long game have affected his short game. That's as bad as I've ever seen him chip it, and on Friday a series of must-make putts never had a chance.
Van Sickle: I'd also suggest he's back to spending so much time working on his swing, searching for it, that it's cut into his short game time. But you've got to put out the biggest fire first.
Bamberger: The biggest fire to put out is putting. He used to win by huge margins by making way more putts than anybody else, even when he was way wild off the tee.
Dusek: All we really know is that Tiger's game is clearly fragile, that the work he and Sean Foley have been doing for almost two years is far from over, and that he's still fighting swing thoughts. Saying that he hits the ball best when he's NOT comfortable at address is a pretty stunning admission.
Morfit: That was weird. If he hits it best when he's not comfortable at address, shouldn't he rehire Steve Williams?
Rouse: I can't help but think that all this swing tinkering is putting Tiger's head in a tizzy. He was never able to get any momentum going at Quail Hollow, and the only club he hit consistently well over the two rounds was 3-wood. The driver was erratic on Thursday, irons on Friday, and his putting was all over the place, especially in the 10-20 feet range.
Tell us what you think in the comments section below: What do you take away from Tiger's missed cut at Quail Hollow?
WHAT WENT WRONG?
Morfit: Let's assume Tiger doesn't suddenly revert back to Tiger circa 2000. What was his downfall? I'll say it wasn't his body falling apart, but instead it was the dissonance between his yearning for privacy and his extreme fame. I think that was at the root of all the other stuff. Thoughts?
Van Sickle: I'm going with getting away from the swing where he played his most impressive golf and parting from Butch Harmon.
Godich: Remember when Jerry Jones and Jimmy Johnson parted ways? How's that been working out for the Cowboys?
Bamberger: Having his inner life exposed, first by the tabloids, later by Haney.
Hanger: His downfall was that he's human. He was able to play like he wasn't for a long, long time, but then his secret life was exposed, and his body started breaking down, and his head got in the way, and the fame got so big that he didn't have anywhere to hide. Nothing lasts forever, even for Tiger Woods.
Gorant: Who knows. Learning "the ropes" from Jordan and Barkley et al? Having his childhood stolen? Marrying when he really didn't want to?
Shipnuck: Putting so much stain on his delicate body is certainly a big piece. The commando workouts are symbolic, but pumping so much iron and running as many miles as he did have led to the physical breakdowns, which necessitated the swing changes, which now have him wandering in the wilderness.
Dusek: Obviously we're guessing here, but the wear on Tiger's body from playing so much, training so hard. His knee has got to be held together with duct tape and c-clamps at this point. His Achilles tendon is bad, and that's just some of the stuff we know about. Had Tiger not had so many injuries, I think he'd have more Ws and possibly more majors today.
Rouse: I don't think it's any one thing. It's a combination of the scandal, the injuries, and the fact that there has been a surge of really great young players.
Tell us what you think in the comments section below: If Tiger never regains his top form, what will go down in history as his ultimate downfall.
FUNK VS. WOODS
Morfit: Gritty little Fred Funk birdied the 18th hole to edge Mr. Champions Tour, Tom Lehman, by one at the Insperity Championship. Let's throw an unusual one out there: Who finishes higher at the Players, Funk or Woods?
Lipsey: Nice! Love to see Funk outdo Woods.
Shipnuck: It's a precision course, so I'll take Funk. Bizarro world we now live in.
Godich: They'll both miss the cut, but Tiger will be closer to the number.
Van Sickle: Who has a better knee? Fred's got a replacement. That might be better.
Bamberger: Creative, Cameron! Funk.
Herre: Tiger's not a big fan of the Stadium course, even though he's won there. But c'mon, let's not go crazy here. He'll dust Funk.
Wei: I'm just hoping Tiger makes it past the first nine holes.
Tell us what you think in the comments section below: Who finishes higher at the Players, Woods or Funk?