It’s hard to believe that it’s nearly ten years since Tiger Woods won by a record 15 strokes at Pebble Beach. Since that outrageous victory in 2000 Woods has won a staggering 70 times. Watching Woods win on a Sunday afternoon donning that famous red shirt is something we’ve got used to. It has been expected.
But, what can be expected of the world number one when the US Open returns to Pebble Beach next week? A lot has changed in the last decade. Woods’ marital problems aside, there are a growing number of youngsters capable of turning up on any given week and running away with it. Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler spring to mind.
I’d even go as far as to say that Woods parting with long-term coach Hank Haney is less significant than the next generation of stars coming through. They carry none of the scars that Woods left on some of his nearest rivals a decade or so ago.
It may be a bold call, but I don’t see Woods contending at Pebble Beach. Priced at 7/1 to win, that speaks volumes. I’ll take 10s if anyone’s interested. We may never see him as short as 11/4 for a Major again.
There’s no doubt Woods still has plenty of wins in the tank, but it’s clearly going to be a struggle getting to and passing Jack Nicklaus’ 18. Ten years ago it was Woods against Pebble Beach and few were surprised that he won so emphatically. Next week, for the first time in a long time – barring April’s opener which marked his return to the game after a long absence – it will be a surprise to see Woods win.