Another missed cut means Tiger Woods’ career is finished. There’s no other answer, is there? Consider an alternative narrative.
It’s a narrative in which Woods finally begins to settle down over the coming months and begins to play golf not a million miles from what we were used to. He even gets into contention at a major or two. It doesn’t sound too unrealistic, does it? You’d even say it was possible.
The uninitiated might think Woods is in the middle of being handed a sentence that will consign him to years of toiling in the lower half of PGA Tour leaderboards. You might think that the script has been written and we’re all just waiting for the inevitable.
The thing is it’s not inevitable. Why should it be?
We’re assuming that a man who won 14 majors between 1997 and 2008 won’t ever get back to somewhere close to his best. Not even close? It’s hardly a watertight argument.
Even after missing the cut at the Open, this is not a time to be writing Woods’ eulogies.
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It would be naive, though, to pretend his game at St Andrews was in a place even semi-recognisable to his salad days. While he is no longer thinning chips as he was earlier this year, he is still performing like a Woods wannabe; every now and then showing promise but ultimately drifting off into something more mortal.
Yet, we’re talking about a man who was once the best in the world. We’re talking about a soon-to-be 40-year-old, not a 50-year-old. Isn’t it possible, even reasonable, that the search for that hidden stardust is not as easy as it might be for a 20-something?
We’re also conveniently ignoring that his Masters performance was promising. Was it Woods in his heyday? Nowhere near. Did he look close to Jordan Spieth’s level? Not slightly. However, it was as good as Woods has been in recent memory. That there are signs of improvement is the important thing.
Who can say these flashes of the Woods of old won’t materialise into something more consistent? They could, and that, ultimately, is the point.
Such is the nature of this game that it’s almost futile to make bold predictions, even though at times a more hyperbolic tone is more appealing.
Consecutive missed major cuts will fuel the school of thought that Woods is done; there’s no getting away from that and it’s not as if these claims are built upon absolutely nothing.
However, while he’s still playing and still working to rediscover that currently elusive magic that once propelled him into the golfing stratosphere, to say Woods is finished will always feel like an empty assertion.