It appears as though Tiger Woods is finally coming to grips with the worst kept secret on the PGA Tour: his golf game is a complete mess and he has no idea what to do about it.
Following his 2009 car accident, cheating scandal and divorce, we have seen very few moments of Tiger Woods being Tiger Woods on the golf course. He once dropped one of the most head scratching and least comical lines about going out there and being "Ranger Rick" on the course, but whoever that alter ego was I'm beginning to wonder if it passed away the day after Thanksgiving 5+ years ago.
Tell me if you feel like you've heard this from Woods before:
"Right now, I need a lot of work on my game, and to still spend time with the people that are important to me. My play, and scores, are not acceptable for tournament golf. Like I've said, I enter a tournament to compete at the highest level, and when I think I'm ready, I'll be back."
Through the scandal, the injuries and poor performance on the golf course, we've always expected that at some point everything would click for Woods again. It hasn't and as the years drag on it becomes more and more likely that it never will.
D'Angelo from The Wire once said, "The king stay the king," when he was explaining the game of chess to Bodie and Wallace on HBO's hit TV series. He was able to tie that narrative into their real life positions within Baltimore's drug game. Tiger Woods the king for a decade on the PGA Tour, but the pawns who he used to beat with ease have since crossed to the other side and made themselves queens. The competition has vastly improved on Tour and Woods has lost the throne to Rory McIlroy without even being able to put up much of a fight for it.
Woods is now a pawn on the PGA Tour. Whether he is ever able to cross that threshold and get back to royalty status is yet to be determined. No matter how much time he takes away from the game to work on his mental and physical game, time may be the biggest factor on where his career can go from here.
He's in a serious search for something - anything - to make him competitive again, but it's not like that search is just beginning. He's tried so many things to get his game back on point that I can't even remember what they are all. I wonder if he even can. He's switched swing coaches and caddies, tweaked his equipment, messed with his swing, taken time off, tried to play through it, etc.. etc…
I'm not sure what I would tell Woods to do if I was a close personal confidant. Maybe I would advise him to swallow his pride and give Hank Haney a call because there are only so many other things to try at this point. It's at least worth a shot.
I've written about Woods and his struggles so many times over the years that he and I now have something in common. He probably can't remember everything he's tried to make his game better, and I can't remember everything I've written about how his career is either over or ready for a rejuvenation.
The difference is, I can answer my question much more quickly than he can solve his problem. I at least know there is a right answer for what I seek.