Pattern Recognition – I tend to see patterns in behavior, nature etc, and I make little assessments all the time that have people doubt me, laugh at me, whatever – until I turn out to be either right or pretty close to it.
I see another pattern in Tiger Woods’ career that others don’t seem to have caught, and that is that however well he is playing, however many tournaments he wins – his majors run is just about over, if not already.
Laugh if you want. Arnold Palmer never won a major past 34 years of age, and neither did Tom Watson. But they kept winning regular tournaments for years afterwards.
Think about that.
Arnold Palmer and Tom Watson, winless in majors after 34. Tiger will be 38 in December, and his last major win came in his 33rd year.
Think about this now:
Tiger Woods has won 14 majors in what will be 17 full seasons played at this year’s end.
Now, look how it breaks down:
Tiger Woods has won 14 Majors in 17 seasons.
He won 12 in his first 10 full seasons (’97-’06).
He won 10 Majors in his 20’s
He’s won 4 in his 30’s.
He’s won 2 Majors in the last 7 seasons. That’s less than Padraig Harrington (3) and equal to Phil Mickelson and Angel Cabrera.
He’s won 0 Majors in the last 5 seasons.
Now, in which direction is this trend heading? A bunch more majors? Or likely none, with a possibility for a fluke win on a perfect weekend, like Nicklaus in ’86?
Tiger’s majors run didn’t really end in 2007 or 2008, both years that he won a single major. His run ended with his last multiple-major win, in 2006. Since then, in 7 full seasons, he’s won exactly two, one each in the seasons following 2006.
When a guy wins 10 Majors in his 20’s and has won 4 with two years to go in his 30’s, and none in the last five years – you can just about call it a party.
Tiger Woods is not Vijay Singh, Ernie Els or Phil Mickelson. Their swings are predicated on a looser, less stressful motion that they will have until they can’t swing anymore at all. They can and have won majors in their 40’s – don’t look for Tiger Woods to be winning majors in his 40’s. He’s playing with duct tape and crazy glue holding together much of his lower body.
His prime years were his 20’s, and anyone who thinks he’s magically going to start winning multiple majors again, let alone having even one guaranteed (and I’m not saying he won’t, just that the numbers say different from the boosters), isn’t looking at the pattern.
I’m sure that for years after his last majors win, Arnold Palmer gave the impression that he could win one at any time.
But he didn’t.
Tiger can win all of the tournaments he pleases, but the majors aren’t being played at Bay Hill, Muirfield Village, Doral, Torrey Pines or Firestone anytime soon.
Final Note: When you also factor in that Tiger’s career has been what it has been because he is arguably the best putter who ever played the PGA Tour, and that putting declines with age – his most potent weapon is no longer that, Tiger is now just a good putter, and is missing the putts he always made, and majors are for the most part won with the flatstick – the picture doesn’t get any rosier.