I was all pumped up for Tiger Woods to recapture the magic. Instead, what we witnessed was Willie Mays hopelessly whiffing. Anyone recall Johnny Unitas with the Chargers? How about Michael Jordan in a Wizards uniform?
Sunday’s final round of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am hurt to watch. It’s not as if Woods’ game is gone. But more than ever, the guy who made Sunday afternoons must-watch TV has gone the way of all good sports.
He still seemed to hit and curve his shots the way he wanted. Whatever swing mechanics he’s working on were good to him. What was missing was that bull’s-eye putting stroke.
In golf, that’s everything; the difference between winning and losing. Woods routinely dunked 4- to 6-foot putts for a decade of dominance. On Sunday, he missed them when they mattered most, on national TV, in a final round, and paired with Phil Mickelson.
Hooray for Lefty. We wanted the world’s best player to be challenged and Mickelson always was in position to do that more than others.
Lefty’s bugaboo has been launching drives into trouble. But by golly, he went for it, and we liked it. And the flatstick. Might as well been an anvil at times.
The roles were switched Sunday. It’s a great story, Phil overcoming a six-stroke deficit to earn his 40th win. But we also witnessed the fall of Tiger at a point in which he was unmatched, perhaps in all of golf history.
In its simplicity, golf is little more than a stick and a ball. But it also evolves into a mental game, more so than other sports.
Woods was the master of that aspect. For a lot of reasons, some well documented, some mechanical, he’s lost that touch.