Tiger’s Time: Woods in Position to Win First Major of ’09


Jul 13, 2009

Tiger's Time: Woods in Position to Win First Major of '09 When looking ahead to any upcoming golf tournament, there’s generally one question that fans and pundits alike ask: Tiger Woods or the field?

With the British Open beginning on Thursday, that is again the prime subject of debate.

Tiger is far and away the biggest name in golf — if not professional
sports — and it’s because he is simply the best. The man has
accumulated 14 major wins to go along with 68 PGA tour victories in his
career, and except for brief, intermittent disruptions, he’s
essentially been on top of the golf world for the past decade.

Coming back from surgery to repair a torn ACL this season, it hasn’t
taken Woods much time to return to form. After placing 17th in his
first tournament back, Woods has strung together eight consecutive
top-10 finishes, including three victories. No, he did not win either
of the majors in which he’s competed so far this year, but sixth-place
finishes in the Masters and the U.S. Open are nothing to be ashamed of.

Woods also has a history of success at the Open Championship. (Though really, where doesn’t
Tiger have a history of success?)  After winning the British for the
first time in 2000, Tiger took back-to-back tournament titles in 2005
and 2006.

But something — or more accurately, someone — has gotten in the way the past two years. Padraig Harrington,
a relatively mediocre player for the majority of his career, made a
name for himself by winning the past two British Opens (and then for
good measure, winning the 2008 PGA Championship as well).

Could Harrington become the first man to win three consecutive Open Championships since Peter Thompson did so between 1954 and 1956? Unfortunately for Harrington, he doesn’t exactly have the momentum heading into the tournament.

The 37-year-old native of Ireland has struggled this year, making
the cut at just over half of the tournaments he’s entered (he’s
7-for-13). His highest finish is 11th, which came back in March, and
he’s missed the cut at his last three events, including the U.S. Open.

So while it’s possible that Harrington puts together a few good
rounds in this tournament, it’s not looking too likely. The man is
ranked 126th in the world for a reason.

After Harrington, picking a potential winner from “the field” is nothing more than a spin of the roulette wheel. Ian Poulter finished second last year and always seems to be on the cusp of breaking out. David Duval had a great performance at the U.S. Open, and the only major he’s ever won happens to be the British, which came back in 2001.

And then there’s Sergio Garcia, who continually
seems to be in the mix but can never quite close it out. He had a
four-shot lead at one point on the final day of the 2007 British, but
he choked it away — including a missed put on the 18th that would’ve
given him a victory – and eventually lost to Harrington in a playoff.
At the 2008 PGA Championship, it was déjà vu all over again, as Garcia
crumbled with a final-day lead and once more saw Harrington reap the
benefits.  Is this finally the year that Garcia gets over the hump, or
will it again end in bitter disappointment?

Of course, a Garcia victory could happen — and it would surely make
a great story — but it’s hard to have faith in the man who was
disqualified from the 2007 PGA Championship for signing the wrong

Ultimately, when you boil it down, this is Tiger’s tournament to
lose. Whether he actually wins his first major since his epic
performance at the 2008 U.S. Open is something we’ll all have to wait
until Sunday to find out.

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