Tiger raises the bar again

The 2005 season started with dreams of golf’s “Big Five” fighting it out for the Majors.

After three of them, reality has been restored. It’s back to the “Big One” and the rest are reduced to scrambling for the crumbs.

Tiger Woods won the Masters, could not putt to save his life but still came second in the US Open, and won the British Open with a stunning display of controlled golf.

World number two Vijay Singh, Retief Goosen and Sergio Garcia all had a chance of moving in on Woods during the last round over the Old Course on Sunday. Ernie Els was already out of contention.
They didn’t even come close. Woods simply moved up a gear to play a form of golf that even impressed him.

“I hit the ball so solidly. My only bad shot was on 13, my second shot, and I pulled it 10 feet.

“It was one of those rounds that I will be think about for a long time,” said the 29-year-old.

Woods victory took his total of Majors to 10, only eight short of Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18.

It’s not a question any more of whether or not Woods will surpass Nicklaus, the only question remaining is when?

“To get to 10 already this soon in my career, it’s very exciting to hopefully look forward to some good years in my 30’s and hopefully into my 40’s,” said Woods.

“Jack took 25 years to win all 18 of his. You know it’s going to take an entire career. It’s not going to happen overnight.

“When I started playing the Tour I didn’t think I’d have this many Majors before the age of 30. There’s no way. No one ever has. Usually the golden years are in your 30’s for a golfer,” he added.

Nicklaus took so long because of the competition—Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, then Tom Watson, Lee Trevino.

Woods is so far ahead of the rest it is almost frightening. Under his current pace he wins one out of every three Majors he plays in which means he should pass Nicklaus’s record before he turns 40.

In 2000 and 2001 he was so dominant he became the first player to hold all four Major titles at the same time.

Nearly two years ago he decided it was time to alter his swing so he would be better than five years ago.

This year proved him right—and his critics horribly wrong—as he took the Masters and the Open.

“That’s why I bust my butt so hard at home to get to this point. I’ve been criticised for years. Why should I change my game? This is why. First, second, first in the last three Majors, that’s why,” explained Woods.

Jose Maria Olazabal was paired with Woods on Sunday and was able to witness first hand Woods 2005 model.

Quizzed if he though the new Woods was catchable he replied: “It’s hard. But I don’t think it is impossible. But it’s close to impossible.”

But Nicklaus, who made a tearful farewell at the Open, summed up Tiger versus the rest when it comes to Majors.

“Even if Tiger is not playing well he will most probably win. When he plays his best, he will,” he said. - Sapa-AFP

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