All the pieces of a jigsaw have to fall into place if Tiger is to win another Major in his career, but you wouldn’t put it past him.
Golf without Tiger has struggled over the past few years, especially when it comes to TV coverage. It will be great for golf when he comes back. Obviously he was competitive at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas in December and that’s good– as soon as he’s competitive people will want to watch golf again.
There will be people out there, new golf fans, who have never seen Tiger during the time he ruled the golf world. This year will mark ten years since he won his last Major at the US Open at Torrey Pines. He’s always created a buzz as a true dominant figure. When he came on the scene he was so long off the tee spectators gasped. We all saw him destroy Augusta back in 1997 when he won by 12 shots. Obviously, people saw that as the future of golf and, unfortunately, that’s the way it’s gone. It’s power-hitting and now we’ve seen that Tiger has to get that sort of length back in order to be competitive against people like Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Justin Thomas and all the other guys who knock it out there a mile. Fifteen or so years ago when he was at his peak he destroyed the fields almost every time he went out – can you compare that to anyone today? Not really.
With any sport, there’s one thing that makes everybody look ordinary and that’s age. Tiger’s taken a year out. He’s got himself fit and got his back and leg sorted out and he can swing again with the speed needed to compete. It would be great if he could win one more Major. The problem for Tiger is that there are so many good youngsters out there. They can do what he did in his prime – destroy the course. A lot of things would have to fall into place for Tiger to win. Looking at last year’s Major winners, three of the four (Koepka, Spieth and Thomas) are all in their 20s so there are a lot of youngsters around who can threaten every time they tee it up, be it at a Major or a normal tournament. That makes it difficult to predict and even more difficult for Tiger.
One of my lads, Jonathan ‘Jigger’ Thomson missed the cut in his first two tournaments which isn’t ideal. It takes a while to settle in on Tour. I think the key thing is trying to find courses that suit him. The course in Mauritius was ever going to suit him. It was a bit restrictive and tight so he couldn’t play to his strengths there. In Johannesburg he couldn’t adapt to the condition with the ball flying that bit further through the air due to the course being so high above sea level. It’s tough to adapt in just a few days and I think when he gets back to European conditions he’ll be fine. Jigger is easy to spot because he’s 6’ 9” and if he starts to win and get some notoriety from his results then he’ll soon become a character who people look for in the game. That’s how characters are formed. You look at someone like ‘Beef’ Johnston – more people started taking notice of him when he won in Spain and had some other good results. The attention has fallen off him a bit since, and he needs to get back performing. He is a great character and it would be nice if he came back and won again. The year he spent in America didn’t do him much good. Someone like Tyrrell Hatton is a proven winner and is something of a character, although, maybe somewhat dour. He can blow hot and cold. Some people like to see that in a player, to see if he’ll ‘blow up.’
Players create their own characters. We’ve got a young Italian on board, Renato Paratore, who may be a future character. I’m also looking at Gary Woodland’s short game. His long game is still coached by Butch Harmon and his power does affect his short game because he gets a lot of ‘flash’ speed to create that power. But that needs to be controlled in the short game. It’s all about getting him to understand the mechanics and the difference between speed and pressure.