Tiger Woods’ bid to end a tumultuous year with a victory at his World Challenge fell short but Graeme McDowell predicts the US star will again be a dominant force in golf - and soon.
“He used to appear invincible,” McDowell noted after he delivered two brilliant clutch putts and beat Woods at the first hole of sudden death at Sherwood Country Club on Sunday.
“Of course he has made himself appear more human in the last 12 months ... But there’s something a bit special about his golf game and I fully expect that mystique to return as the golf clubs start doing the talking again.”
Plenty of talk swirled around Woods in 2010, and much of it had less to do with his golf game than with the revelations of marital infidelity that exploded in November 2009.
By August his marriage was over, he had lost millions in endorsement deals and for the first time since he turned pro, Woods finished a season without a victory.
He played only 15 stroke-play events worldwide and got a nod as a captain’s pick for the US Ryder Cup team. But Woods admitted that the off-course turmoil affected him and he also struggled to come to grips with the swing changes he was implementing with coach Sean Foley.
A storming singles triumph on the last day of the Ryder Cup as well as a six-under final round at the Australian Masters in November were signs that his game was coming together.
But it wasn’t until this week that Woods was able to put it together for multiple rounds.
“I’ve played well in stretches, now the stretches are lasting longer,” Woods said. “It was just a few holes and then it became nine holes. First day it was all 18 holes. “So it was progress ... I’m just really excited about this off-season,” Woods added.“I haven’t been that way in a while.” Northern Ireland’s McDowell, who has had a stellar season himself with a first major title at the US Open and a move into the top 10 in the world, was excited to see Woods’ progress as well. “I’m definitely a guy who says that golf needs Tiger Woods and we need him back to winning tournaments,” McDowell said.
“Just great to see him back playing great again this week. “I thought he controlled his ball really well the last couple of days ... didn’t do a huge lot wrong,” McDowell added. “Obviously I was trying to go out there and do my job today, but he’ll be back winning tournaments very soon.”