Perhaps they should start to identify him by his real name, because Tiger Woods certainly has been playing golf this season like an “Eldrick.”
During the 2015 season, Woods has made just four PGA Tour cuts and earned just $318,998, which is paltry by Woods standards. His play this year has raised the question. Can he ever get back to the level of winning major championships, something which he has not done since the 2008 U.S. Open? Tri-county golf course player representatives of the Maine State Golf Association were polled on that subject last week, and it produced a wide variety of observations.
Cy Thompson, the veteran MSGA rep for Poland Spring, smiled when he was asked about Woods, and said: “You’re talking to a guy who lost a bet that Woods would make the cut at the PGA.”
“I don’t think he is done,” Thompson said. “He’s got the equipment, but the odds are stacked against him. I know he’s 40 (actually not until Dec. 30), but he has had immense talent.”
Brian Bilodeau of Martindale, one of Maine’s leading amateur players and his club’s player rep, also thinks Woods can turn around his golf game.
“I think he’ll be fine,” said Bilodeau, an independent car dealer. “The field has caught him, but I don’t think he is done. I just don’t think he is going to dominate.”
Two other player reps are not so optimistic about Woods recovering from his struggles on and off the golf course.
“Young guns have come in and played aggressively,” said Don Flanagan of Fox Ridge. “His body has broken down and he’s not the same mentally. It’s not going to be any easier for him going forward.”
Ray Richards of Paris Hill agrees.
“I think his playing time is about done,” Richards said. “He never will be the golfer he was. As far as him winning another major, I would say no.”
Dick McCann of Spring Meadow provided his take on a cure for Woods’ golf maladies and said, “I don’t think he is going to get back. He needs Butch Harmon.” But McCann also stated his doubts that Woods will allow himself to return to Harmon, one of the great teaching pros in golf. You could call that “opposition disorder.”
Woods, who made one of four cuts in the majors this year, was tied for 17th at the Masters. With 14 major championships under his belt, one would not think that age has become a factor — especially considering that Jack Nicklaus won his 18th major in 1986 at 46. With Woods possessing immense pride in his physical condition and an outstanding work ethic, that should translate to a championship future for him in PGA events and majors.
That theory could be countered, however, with the fact that Woods has had back and knee surgeries, his off-the-course life has become a mess, he cannot keep tee shots on the fairways, and the once-best putter on the PGA Tour has lost his touch. Summed up, you do not currently have the “Tiger,” whose PGA Tour career earnings are $109,931,412. What you do have, at least for now, is an “Eldrick.” Even a championship at Wyndham this weekend cannot alter that fact.
MSGA Senior Amateur
The MSGA is conducting its Senior Amateur championship Wednesday and Thursday at Brunswick with its regular weekend tournament being held Friday and Saturday at Springbrook.
Fox Ridge Invitational
The inaugural Fox Ridge Invitational, being held Thursday as a fund-raiser for The First Tee of Maine, has openings for teams in a scramble format.
Ron Bibeau, executive director of First Tee, said he would accept entries until Wednesday. Information on the tournament is available by telephoning 809-9020.
“This tournament is to benefit First Tee programming in the Lewiston-Auburn area,” Bibeau said. “We even have seven First Tee kids playing in it, so that older players can see what we are doing with the youngsters.”