After a four-year drought, it appeared that Tiger Woods was on the verge of winning another major championship, this time at the Olympic Club in San Francisco. The last major Tiger won was the U. S. Open in 2008 at Torrey Pines. Had he prevailed this weekend, it would have been the fourth U. S. Open title and 15th major championship of his career. In a way, the feat could have served as a slap in the face to all the critics who thought his golfing career was dead in the water years ago. However poetic, it was not to be.
At the end of the day on Friday, Tiger was tied for the lead with David Toms and Jim Furyk. After Round 3 Saturday evening, he tumbled down the leader board, ending up in a tie for 14th place. Tiger has never been able to pull off a come-from-behind victory when he wasn’t either tied for first or in third place. In fact, the golf legend was 0-48 in majors when trailing after the first three rounds. Thus, I can say with some certainty that when he teed off today, there wasn’t much hope that he would win the tournament. He started off with a bogey, then another, then a double-bogey. After three holes, he had played himself right out of contention for the U. S. Open Championship Trophy, finishing in a six-way tie for 21st.
When Tiger first burst onto the PGA circuit in 1996, he was a breath of fresh air for golf. His play and the fact that he had almost immediate success in the sport attracted sports fans young and old to televised broadcasts. A mere year into his career, Tiger earned his very first major championship when he won the Masters … definitely not a bad way to start a career. Personally, I’ve never really been much of a golf fan – hell, I just played my very first game of mini-golf two weeks ago – but even I know that when Tiger is on his game, it bodes well for the sport. But the empire he worked so hard to build started crumbling down around him in 2009 when word of his multiple infidelities got out.
From there, his career pretty much when down the toilet. When Tiger returned from a four-month absence from the sport, he seemed like he had not only lost his edge, but he also lost the respect of a great deal of his fan base. His golf game was not up to par – pun intended. His sponsorships with the likes of AT&T, Gatorade and General Mills ended abruptly and the former No. 1 golfer in the world saw his ranking drop to a dismal No. 58. It was a tumultuous time for the golf legend, to say the least.
After all the trials and tribulations he has gone through, it really would have been nice to see him do well at the U. S. Open this year. Judging from the first two rounds of play, we have seen that he can, in fact, still play the game and play it well. It just wasn’t his tournament to win. Clearly, he still has a great deal of time left to be a threat on the course, but it really does seem like some of the luster has definitely worn off his game. On the bright side, I really liked like what I saw from amateur Beau Hossler. He showed a great deal of promise and, if he keeps playing like he did this afternoon, he could very well turn out to be the new baby-face of the sport.