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Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Sky isn't falling for Tiger Woods after 79


There are some in the always-rational online sports community whose reactions to Tiger Woods' 79 at Torrey Pines on Saturday might have been a bit exaggerated. Everything Woods does, good and bad, is always under a microscope, so their reactions weren't surprising. However, some perspective is probably necessary.

First of all, yes -- Tiger was abysmal, especially in the third round. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Woods' streak of seven straight holes worse than par was two longer than any such string in his career in a single round. Tiger hit only seven greens in regulation, and only four of his approach shots were within 20 feet. Woods missed four putts inside 10 feet, and was just 1-for-5 on putts between 10 and 15 feet.

And we at Numbers Game are not ignoring the general theme of these abhorrent scores by Tiger. From the time he turned pro through 2009, Woods had seven rounds of 77 or worse: about one in every 34 tournaments. Since then, he has five such rounds in 58 events: about one in every 12 tournaments.

It came in a seemingly bygone era, but this has actually happened before -- multiple times -- for the world No. 1. And both instances came at venues where Woods has had great success throughout his career. Twice since 1999, Woods posted a round of 76 or worse in a PGA Tour event before March 1. The first came in the third round of the 1999 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. The other came in the second round of the 2002 Buick Invitational -- held at Torrey Pines.

The wheels didn't fall off, and the world didn't end either year for Mr. Woods.

In 1999, Tiger rebounded from the third-round 78 at Pebble Beach by winning his next start. He finished that PGA Tour season with eight wins in all, including the PGA Championship. Woods had 16 top-10 finishes in 21 starts by the time the season concluded.

In 2002, Tiger won five times, including both the Masters and U.S. Open. He finished second at the PGA Championship, and wound up with nine top-three finishes in his 18 PGA Tour starts.

Woods will be competing at the Dubai Desert Classic this week, a tournament he won in both 2006 and 2008. Tiger, of course, went on to win majors each of those years.