The End of an Era & The Birth of a Fresh Start for Golf

The Past:

Tiger Woods has ruled golf since he won his first major in 1997.  Since then, Woods has gone on to win a total of 14 Majors, with his last win coming from the 2008 U.S. Open.  From 1997 through 2008, there wasn’t another athlete on the planet who dominated their sport more than Woods.  Unfortunately that all changed following the well-publicized split between Woods and his wife; which brought Woods’ personal life (which he had always kept from the public eye) and his indiscretions public.

Once Woods’ personal life became public knowledge in 2009, his professional life/career and never been the same.  With the exception of 2013 [where he had 5 PGA tour wins] Woods hasn’t come close to performing or even competing the way he had when he was dominant.  That mental edge that he once used to eradicate his competitors vanished.  The man that was once believed that the only way to be victorious is to crush your competition now believes that just being competitive is a victory in itself.

Anyone who’s an unbiased golf fan will agree with my next sentence; Tiger Woods is done.  He will never win another Major for one specific reason; he’s lost his mental edge.  Golf is more of a mental game than any other sport in the world.  Skill is obviously a factor, but if you allow a bad round, or even a bad hole get in your head, you’re done.  Woods is getting psyched out before he even walks onto the course; ironic because his competition used to do the same whenever they had to face off against him and now he’s become an afterthought.

I’m sick of the media coverage leading up to every Major with the headline of; “Will this be the beginning of the Woods comeback?”  Please, just stop.  Woods is done.  It’s time to stop wishing for Woods to return to his glory days, and start praising the impressive young talent that has taken ahold of the PGA Tour.

The Future:

With Woods’ poor play and “injuries’, the PGA [and golf fans] has been desperate to find his successor.  The two most likely are Rory Mcllroy (26 years old) and Jordan Spieth (21 years old).

Mcllroy has won 4 Majors since 2011 and is the current number one ranked player in the world. In 2013 after Nike signed Mcllroy to a deal worth roughly $200 million dollars, it was assumed by many, that he would become Woods’ successor; and challenge not only Wood’s majors but Jack’s [Nicklaus] as well.  A leg injury has sidelined Mcllroy for the remainder of the Championship season, so we’ll have to wait till next year to see if he can add to his already impressive major’s trophy collection.

Spieth is coming off a gut wrenching finish at the British Open, where he was trying to be the first player in over 50 years to win the Masters, US Open and British Open consecutively.  Spieth has caught fire this year winning his first two majors back-to-back and came within one stroke of competing [in a playoff] for his third straight major.  In his limited time on the PGA tour, Spieth has shown that he has all the raw talent (not to mention a ‘clutch gene’] to not only challenge Woods’ championships, but surpass them.

If I was going to bet my money on either player, I’d take Spieth over Mcllroy one hundred times out of one hundred.   Spieth’s performances this year have shown that he has not only the mental [clutch] makeup to win on the biggest stage, but he has all the skill and confidence to match.  Unfortunately, Mcllroy has shown that sometimes he will wither under pressure; like he did when he blew a four stroke lead during the final round of the 2011 Masters.  Not only did he choke, but he completed the greatest collapse ever at the Masters, shooting a putrid 80 and finishing tied for 15th place.  Now, I’m not saying that Mcllroy isn’t an incredible golfer who won’t win his fair share of majors, I just think Spieth [in his extremely early career], has shown me more.

Regardless of who you believe will be the better golfer, there’s no arguing that golf is in good hands.  There are many who believe that neither one will ever move the ‘needle’ the way Woods has, and although that might be true, I believe that golf is in just as good of a place as it was when Woods was dominating; maybe in an even better one.

*If you like what you’ve read, please check out my podcast The MC Sports Show (themcsportsshow.podomatic.com) with my partner Matthew Danieluk *

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