Woods' stats show slow start over last 4 seasons

Tiger Woods plays a bunker shot on the third hole during a practice round for the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.

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There are dozens of way to slice, dice and shake up Tiger Woods data, but here’s one though that shows he’s different than in years past: count just his first four tournaments of a calendar year.

Where he used to break from the gates with authority, the torrid starts have evaporated as he has gotten older.

Again, just measuring his first four tournaments of the season – PGA Tour, European Tour, Asian Tour, doesn’t matter – from 1997 to 2009 he was uncanny early. In this 13-year stretch, once he won the first four out of the blocks (2008), once he won three of four (2003), and three times he won twice (2006, 2000, 1997). The first four tournaments of the year times 13 seasons is 52 tournaments, and Woods won 19 of them for a winning percentage of .365.

But since turning 35, his first four starts of 2011, '12, and '13 have been lackluster. One win in 12 starts, that being last year’s Farmers Insurance Open. If you factor in this year’s Farmers, that’s 1-for-13, or a clip of .077.

Now as he demonstrated last year when he won his fifth, sixth and eighth starts of the season, the man still has a serious strut when everything is clicking, but these numbers offer fodder for a reasonable theory. That is, Woods, 38, isn't as sharp at the beginning of a season. Because of his age, injury history and custodial duties as a divorced father, there's no way he can practice and prepare himself like he used to, when he was in his 20s or early 30s.

See all of senior writer Jim McCabe's news and notes this week in pro golf right here.

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