Maginnes On Tap: Fearing Tiger a thing of past

Tiger Woods chipping out of trouble for his third shot on the par-5 2nd hole during the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Tiger Woods chipping out of trouble for his third shot on the par-5 2nd hole during the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

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Hilton Head, SC - Harbour Town Golf Links

4:20:02 PM ET. 04/19/2014




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1Nicholas Thompson-510-7
T2Rory Sabbatini-414-5
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Tiger Woods left no room for excuses in Abu Dhabi this week. In his early week press conference he said that he was healthy and pain free. He said that he had been able to prepare the way that he had in the past, working hard on body and game. He said that he was ready and excited about the week.

He said that he was there to win.

By week's end Tiger was outplayed by someone who wanted it more than he did. Robert Rock may have just had his greatest moment in golf. Of course, he could become a major championship winner, No. 1 in the world and wear a hat, but no one is expecting any of those things to happen. From the sound of it, Rock isn’t expecting any of those things to happen either.

So what happened in that far away land this weekend? You can site statistics, Tiger couldn’t find the fairway on Sunday, he hit two. You can suggest that he is still rusty having not competed in six weeks. But, Tiger has never played a full schedule and has always been able to come back without pause.

The simple answer is that Robert Rock and Rory McIlroy for the matter, wanted it more than Tiger.

I loved that Robert Rock said that he didn’t think that Tiger had lost any of his allure. Then again Rock watched that allure from a pro shop and never from the final group with Woods.

Tiger’s allure, intimidation factor and ability to will his way to a win may well be a thing of the past. I don’t think that we can give Robert Rock the credit for that and certainly the “scandal” doesn’t deserve the credit that it has gotten either.

Y.E. Yang took down Tiger in 2009 at Hazeltine and Tiger hasn’t won a major championship since. A two-season drought wouldn’t seem like much for most players, but we aren’t talking about most players. Tiger won six times in 2009, including the Bridgestone right before the PGA and the BMW Championship right after. When Yang took down Tiger, he took down Tiger at his best.

At the time, it seemed like a blip on Tiger’s massive radar. It seemed like he had prolonged the inevitable for so long that there was a sense of righteousness to the Yang victory. But hindsight might suggest that it was much more than that.

There may never be another player accomplish what Tiger has been over the past 15 years. And once again this week, Jack Nicklaus said that he expects Tiger to surpass his 18 major championships. But Jack went on to say that Tiger still had to do it.

Every step of the way is going to be harder for Tiger.

Some will argue that players are better today than ever but that argument gets made every generation and rarely has much merit. Bob May made it tough on Tiger, so did Chris DiMarco just to name a couple. No, the difference is that players today expect to beat Tiger, not just hope that they can. It is a fundamental truth of the game that to compete at the highest level you have to believe that when you have your best stuff that you will beat anyone.

Tiger robbed a generation of players that belief…trust me, I was there. We may not have known it at the time, but Yang restored that belief and Robert Rock verified it.

I don’t know any better than anyone else whether or not Tiger will pass Jack. I still believe that he will at least challenge the record that “couldn’t be broken” as it was called 20 years ago. I also believe that Tiger will win many tournaments this year and in the years to come. But it won’t be like it once was.

Tiger will have to bring his "A game" or he will find a Rock between himself and the trophy. (Sorry, I couldn’t help myself)

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