The Golf Blog: Has Tiger Woods turned soft in the face of Rory McIlroy’s ascendancy?

mulligan, 11 September 2012, Comments Off
Categories: Uncategorized

The Golf Blog says: A few weeks ago, Tiger Woods referred to playing partner Rory McIlroy as his “friend” at the Barclays Invitational, and how much he enjoyed playing together. That statement caught us offguard because Tiger rarely ever calls his playing partner a “friend,” especially not during tournament play and the heat of competition. What was even more surprising was how much Tiger talked and joked with Rory during the first two rounds–as the photo here shows a glimpse of their banter. And the two joked again later when Rory said he’d like to kick Tiger’s ass at the Ryder Cup this month. Yes, that’s right, Rory said he’d like to kick Tiger’s ass. And Tiger took the remark without any jab in return.

The sight of Tiger Woods smiling on the golf course and becoming bosom buddies with his chief rival today is a hard one to swallow. Is this the same Tiger Woods who barely says a word, much less drops a smile, when paired with Vijay Singh, Phil Mickelson, or Graeme McDowell? Is this the same Tiger Woods who beat Stephen Ames 9 up with 8 to play at the Match Play Championship in 2006 after Ames joked about Woods’ then recent poor play? Is this the same Tiger Woods who made a dramatic and improbable comeback at the 1996 US Amateur after getting irked that Steve Scott’s attractive caddie/then girlfriend Kristi Hommel was smiling so much as Scott opened up a 5-shot lead over Tiger after 18 holes?

Tiger Woods, who is nearly 37 years old, hasn’t won a major in 4 years, the longest drought of his career. That may not be the only thing he’s lost. His intimidation factor appears to be gone. So, too, his killer instinct. Neither bodes well for Tiger’s quest to beat Jack Nicklaus’s record of 18 majors. Jack may be smiling as well.


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