Tiger Woods turns 40 on 30th December 2015. During the last decade, he’s slumped from the dominant player of his generation to 414th in the world, with back operations coming more frequently than tournament wins.
Woods, who hasn’t won a Major since 2008, was recently named as on of Davis Love’s assistants for the 2016 Ryder Cup – an honour typically bestowed on players unlikely to make the team.
So what’s in store for Woods in 2016 and beyond? We asked some of golf’s biggest names for their predictions, and examined the statistics to see whether or not they’re on Tiger’s side.
He’s got to get physically strong enough to practise hard enough to find his game again, and then try to win again. The hardest thing is how determined he can be to come back. If he has another season like this one, mixed with poor play and injuries, what decisions will he make? If it was me, how can you pick it up?
He’s had a great career, and I don’t think it is over. He’s had a little lull in his career, and we’ll see what happens from here. I had lulls in my career, too. I had several periods where I had three or four years that I didn’t win a Major Championship, and I came back from that. I think Tiger may do the same.
I think Tiger will turn it around. He’s too dedicated; he works too hard at it; he’s got too much talent. He’ll figure it out. Personally, I think he needs to figure it out himself, because a teacher can’t teach what’s inside your head.
If he’s healthy, I think Tiger’s got 10-plus years to play tournament golf. He’s got a little over 40 more Major Championships to play, and he’s only got to win five to pass my record. As good a player as he is, I don’t think that should be a big deal. He’s just got to be healthy to do it.
He will win again. He will win other tour events. But a Major? I don’t see it. I see a guy who is totally lost, who does not have a go-to shot. When you are a great player and you go through a bad spell, it is usually a minor adjustment you need to get your game back into place. But Tiger needs to make major adjustments.
It looks like it is a long road to recovery for him. That’s his third back surgery in just over a year, and like someone once said, the best way to avoid your fifth back surgery is not to do the first one. I just hope he gets better.
Tiger’s in a mode where he has to know it all. Jack might have made some tweaks here and there, but Tiger has made astronomical changes in a quest to get better. In his quest to get better, he’s actually gotten worse, and now he’s confused.
Jack understood that if he could stay the same, he would still dominate. Tiger didn’t need to get better. He just didn’t need to get worse. He may look back and have regrets. He’s only worked with one guy that’s played golf at a really high level, and that’s Butch Harmon. And for him to just turn it all over to two guys that have never played on a high level is a bit of a mystery considering how great Tiger was when he did it. But I’m not writing him off. His problems are easy fixes.
I still am one of the few guys who think he can challenge and beat Jack’s record.
If he doesn’t try to go back to where he was five or six years ago, he will get worse instead of better. Could he go back to where he was? He could. Do I think he will? No.
Is Tiger too old to win a Major?
Some of the game’s best players stopped winning Majors before they hit the big 4–0. Arnold Palmer won his last at 34, Tom Watson was 33, and Seve Ballesteros was just 31 when he won his fifth and final Major.
Johnny Miller, Curtis Strange, Jose Maria Olazabal, Fred Couples, Tom Weiskopf and Paul Azinger… none of them won a Major after their 35th birthday.
Or maybe not…
Jack Nicklaus won his final Major at 46, becoming the oldest Major champion ever. Phil Mickelson only won one Major before he hit 35, but has won four since, including the 2013 Open, when he was 42. Mark O’Meara (41), Ernie Els (42), Vijay Singh (41) and Payne Stewart (42) all showed that it is possible to win a Major in your fifth decade.
How old are Major winners?