PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Tiger Woods must be kicking himself for dropping out of Stanford two years early. If this golf career doesn’t work out for him, he doesn’t even have a college degree to fall back on.
OK, his game is not that bad.
But it sure can be made to seem that way.
It’s hard to believe it was only six weeks ago when Woods went through yet another coronation. He rallied from five shots behind and won the Arnold Palmer Invitational with a birdie putt on the final hole. He was one month into his return from major knee surgery that kept him out of competition for eight months.
And what has he done lately?
Woods tied for sixth at the Masters. He was within one shot of the lead going to the back nine at Quail Hollow, closed with nothing but pars and finished fourth. He was in the final group Sunday at The Players Championship, five shots behind Alex Cejka, then made bogeys from the pine straw, rough and sand on the front nine and wound up in eighth place.
For any other player, that four-week record would make him one of the hottest players in golf.
For Woods, it’s bordering on a slump.
“What has he won, 11 of his last 18?” Paul Goydos said. “Yeah, I’m really concerned about this flash in the pan.”
This is nothing new.
A week after Woods won the U.S. Open at Bethpage Black for his eighth major championship, Golf Digest ran an online survey asking if he would break Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 majors, and 73 percent said yes. Two years later, after Woods had gone eight majors without winning, the magazine posed the same question, and 71 percent said no.
Woods once said the media tend to exaggerate when he plays poorly – and when he plays well.
But it’s his own fault.
Woods is the one who set outrageous standards by winning the career Grand Slam at age 24, by winning one U.S. Open by 15 shots and another on one good leg. He has never lost a PGA Tour event when leading by more than one shot going into the final round. And his 66 victories on the PGA Tour are one more than the next six players combined in the world rankings.
He contributes to the expectations by what he says.
Woods now has 16 consecutive top 10s in stroke play, a streak that was mentioned to him after the Masters.
“I have a hard time looking at it that way,” he said. “It’s just the nature of how I am. You want to try and win every event you play in, and obviously, I haven’t done that this year.”
Skyline Country Club pro Don Littrell started with a pair of birdies last week and went on to shoot a 2-under-par 70 to win the PGA Southwest Section Southern Chapter Pro Series No. 2 at Ventana Canyon.
Ex-University of Arizona golfer Brandon Smith of Ventana Canyon was second at 72 and Andrew Cochran of Stone Canyon was third at 73.
Local pros will be in pro-am action Wednesday at the Omni Tucson National.
• The Arizona Paralyzed Veterans will hold their fundraising golf tournament May 31 at Randolph North. For more information, call Karen L. Gialle at 256-5311 or Joe Chitty at 574-0129.
Citizen Staff Report
What: Texas Open
Site: San Antonio
Course: LaCantera Golf Club, Resort Course (7,153 yards, par 70)
Television: Golf Channel (Thursday-Friday, noon-3 p.m., 5:30-8:30 p.m.) and CBS (Saturday-Sunday, noon-3 p.m.)
Last week: Sweden’s Henrik Stenson won The Players Championship, closing with a 6-under 66 for a four-stroke victory over Ryder Cup teammate Ian Poulter. Tiger Woods shot a 73 in the final round to finish eighth, seven strokes back.
What: Sybase Classic
Site: Clifton, N.J.
Course: Upper Montclair Country Club (6,413 yards, par 72)
Television: ESPN2 (Friday, 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.)
Last week: Cristie Kerr won the Michelob Ultra Open for the second time. shooting 69-63-66-70 for a two-stroke victory over In-Kyung Kim. Kerr, also the 2005 Kingsmill winner, has 12th career LPGA Tour titles.
What: Regions Charity Classic
Site: Hoover, Ala.
Course: Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at Ross Bridge (7,473 yards, par 72)
Television: Golf Channel (Friday, 3:30-5:30 p.m.; Saturday, 3:30-6:30 p.m.; Sunday, 4-6:30 p.m.)
Last event: Tom Lehman made a par putt on the second playoff hole to become the 13th player to win in his Champions Tour debut, teaming with Bernhard Langer to beat Craig Stadler and Jeff Sluman on April 26 in the Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf.
PGA EUROPEAN TOUR
What: Irish Open
Site: Baltray, Ireland
Course: County Louth Golf Club (7,063 yards, par 72)
Television: Golf Channel (Thursday-Friday, 7-10 a.m.; Saturday, 7-10 a.m., 1-3 p.m.; Sunday, 6-9 a.m., 1-3 p.m.)
Last week: Argentina’s Daniel Vancsik won the Italian Open for his second PGA European Tour title, closing with a 6-under 65 for a six-stroke victory over John Daly, Raphael Jacquelin and Robert Rock.
The Associated Press