He knows it has been sixteen attempts at a major tournament victory since he has hoisted a trophy after winning a major tournament. The critics of his play continue to grow louder and louder,
People are beginning to doubt whether he will ever break Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major victories. Once a foregone conclusion, skeptics are questioning his ability to do so given his ever increasing age, as well as his recent losing streak. Being that he is is Tiger Woods, the face of golf as far back as many can recall, it would only take a win at the British Open to silence his critics.
Experts are split as to whether or not Tiger Woods is going to successfully silence the critics by breaking his major tournament losing streak. Two of the four experts on ESPN picked Tiger to win, the other two selected Matt Kuchar and Jason Day respectively.
Even Tiger Woods former swing coach Hank Haney has vocally critiqued his preparation following the U.S. Open. He told FoxSports.com that “Tiger doesn’t have as good a chance of winning on courses that he doesn’t know well. He is a great greens rememberer, but if he hasn’t played the course, his greens reading won’t be nearly as good. He plays the course in a rushed way maybe once or twice before the tournament week. Then in the tournament week Tiger has gotten into a routine of playing nine-hole practice rounds on some days.”
Unfamiliarity with the greens has to be a concern for Tiger Woods heading into the British Open at Muirfield. He has not played on the course in 11 years. The last time he played on the course, he posted his worst score as a professional when he shot an 81 after falling victim to the swirling winds throughout the course.
Tiger certainly remembers the round, recalling that “That was the worst I’ve ever played in. It was just a cold, cold day. We played through probably maybe 13, 14 holes of it. And then it started easing up towards the end, and by then the damage had already been done to my round.”
Despite his recent struggles in the major tournaments, Tiger Woods is the number one ranked player in golf, and feels good about his game. In an interview after a practice round, Woods said that:
“I feel very good about my game. I felt very, very good going into major championships. I’ve had a pretty good year this year so far; won four times. Even though I haven’t won a major championship in five years, I’ve been there in a bunch of them where I’ve had chances.”
Heading into the 142nd British Open at Muirfield, Woods is also facing questions regarding the condition of his left elbow. Tiger has taken time off since the U.S. Open. He claims that “The elbow feels good. It’s one of the good things of taking the time off to let it heal and get the treatment and therapy on it. The main reason was that coming over here, the ground is going to be hard, obviously. And I’m going to need that elbow to be good.”
Tiger will need his elbow to hold up if he wants to hoist the Claret Jug for a fourth time and silence his critics by winning the British Open. He has been preparing all week, showing that he is putting in the effort Haney felt he was lacking in previous tournament preparation. We will find out if the extra preparation and rest pays off soon.
Follow me on Twitter @CharlieGille
Senior Sports Editor
The Guardian Express