Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Tiger May Be Down, but Don't Count Him Out

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Tiger May Be Down, but Don't Count Him Out

Article excerpt

Byline: Garry Smits, Times-Union sports writer

ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- He's not a happy Tiger these days.

This week at the PGA Championship, grimaces and downcast eyes have replaced the smile that used to have enough wattage to restore power to a mid-sized Northeastern city. He has buried clubs in anger and tossed them aside in disgust. He swings, then urgently shouts at crooked tee shots that refuse to listen and straighten.

You can sense the hair standing on the back of his neck when the word slump is tossed out by a member of the media. He has no reason to suffer foolish talk like that but truth be told, he talks like he's in a slump.

Yet, should the word slump be applied? Tiger Woods has won four times, matching the PGA Tour high for the 2003 season. His last three starts show this: win, tie for fourth, tie for second. Almost $5 million in earnings have been direct-deposited in his name since he won three tournaments in a row in February and March.

Yet, Woods will not win a major championship for the first time since 1998, when he was in the middle of a massive swing overhaul and won only one time, at the BellSouth Classic. Woods shot 73 yesterday in the third round of the PGA at the Oak Hill Country Club, and at 9-over par, will have another early weekend tee time today.

Woods will be 0 for 6 in majors since he won the 2002 U.S. Open at Bethpage. By his standards, that's quite a tumble from the streak he began at the 1999 PGA at Medinah. After fending off Sergio Garcia by one shot, he went on to win seven-of-11 majors, an unprecedented streak that may never be equaled, even by him.

Therein lies the problem. Woods may well finish his career with every important victory record in professional golf. Impossibly high standards such as Sam Snead's 82 PGA Tour titles and Jack Nicklaus' 18 professional majors are within reach since Woods has, at the age of 27, 38 victories and eight majors.

In establishing himself in that company, Woods set a bar so high others can't reach it with a ladder. …

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