Christensen: Still In The Woods
April 10, 2012
Bubba Watson's dramatic victory in this year's Masters was a thing of beauty. The shot from behind the trees on the extra hole defied physics seemingly and when he cried at the end with family, there was something genuinely heartfelt about this young man and what he had accomplished. And when you think of how few people possess that iconic Green Jacket, you appreciate that much more what Watson accomplished.
Obscured, and justifiably so, was the poor performance of Tiger Woods. He was never in contention and finished completely out of the money by being tied for 40th place some 15 strokes off the pace. It was his worst performance at the Masters in his storied time of being in Augusta and those that thought he had his swing fixed by winning Bay Hill a week ago were overly optimistic.
It was not just the poor play however. It was his boorish behavior of profanity and throwing clubs, not to mention excuses about his game, some of which like his swing have become quite tiresome--as if the swing fairy could somehow magically appear and grant him his wish. The combination of his philandering, his subsequent divorce, and the physical toll that a literal lifetime of golf swings have put on his constitution has rendered him unable to garner the steely concentration that set him apart from 1997-2008 when he was the best golfer in the history of the game.
But we have quite a leeway for winners don't we? No doubt there is a contingent of people that wish him badly as a result of his seemingly arrogant demeanor and past transgressions. But there is a considerably more vast throng of followers that want very much for Eldrick Woods to be wearing that red shirt on the 18th hole of a Major in position to win. From commercial sponsors, to PGA officials, to even his competitors a return to that level of dominance is a desired commodity. The question everyone in the golf wold is asking is can the manic concentration and nonpareil shot-making return despite his difficult past and a future made less bright by the number of quality young golfers that are now on tour? The last 14 majors have been won by 14 different players with others on the horizon awaiting their shot. Frankly,the odds are against him with regards to his catching and/or passing the record 18 Majors that Jack Nicklaus put up. With 14 Woods seemed like a lock four years ago, but times change. Can he change with them?