Commentary

Don't expect a Tiger turnaround

Updated: August 9, 2013, 10:57 PM ET
By Gene Wojciechowski

ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- Anything is possible this weekend at the PGA Championship, right?

Tiger Woods could go lower than tree roots. Thirty-six-hole leader Jason Dufner could injure himself while Dufnering. Adam Scott, tied for second, could be penalized 5 shots for being too handsome.

But, unless Woods gives birth to a pair of twin 65s -- and then the rest of the field suffers a seizure -- golf's most perplexing majors winless streak will live to see 2014. It's as simple as that.

[+] EnlargeTiger Woods
Allan Henry/USA TODAY SportsJust like many swings this week at Oak Hill, Tiger Woods' major hopes fell by the wayside at the PGA Championship.

"I'm going to have to do my job and shoot a good round," said Woods, who is 1 over par after a 71-70 Thursday/Friday combo. "Then again, I'm so far back that if the leaders go ahead and run off with it and shoot a low one [Saturday], I'm going to be pretty far behind."

More people can name the year Woods last won a major (2008) than can name the capital of New York (Albany). His majors oh-fer reached critical mass a long time ago, but now, with Woods 10 strokes behind Dufner and trailing 37 players in all, you have to at least ask the question.

Why hasn't he won one?

It's not like he isn't trying. Nobody grinds more during a round than Woods. Nobody wants Woods to win his 15th major more than, well, Woods.

But it's impossible to ignore that 2013 is almost certainly going to come and go without Woods winning a major. And if it happens -- and it would take the greatest comeback in PGA Championship history for Woods to leave Oak Hill with the Wannamaker Trophy -- the streak will grow to 22 majors since his victory at the 2008 U.S. Open (he's played in 18 of those 22).

"He's right there," said Davis Love III, who was one of Woods' playing partners for the first two rounds. "A long way to go [in the tournament]."

And this from Steve Stricker, who worked with Woods on his putting earlier in the week: "He's not out of it. He's capable of extraordinary things."

True enough, but his play during the first two rounds was extraordinarily ordinary. He began Friday's round at 1 over par and finished it there.

"Just the way it goes," Woods said.

On a day when morning downpours turned the greens into bentgrass/poa dartboards, Woods suffered from directional malfunction. His card featured four birdies, which gives him just six for 36 holes. He hit just seven of 14 fairways and had two three-putts (including one on the par-4 14th, on which he drove the green). You don't win this PGA Championship, with these forgiving conditions, with those kinds of numbers.

Meanwhile, 22 other players are below par, including Dufner, who tied the all-time major record with a round of 63. Webb Simpson shot 64. Oak Hill, as Woods admitted, was "gettable."

So what's the problem? That he wants to win it too much? That the world's best player arrives at a major and obsesses himself into yarn balls of nerves?

Sorry, not buying that one. Woods has won 14 majors and 79 PGA Tour events in all. He's won five tournaments this season, including last week's WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. His nerves don't go on vacation just because it's a biggie.

"We're spoiled," Love said. "We think he should play great every week and that he's not human."

It isn't as if Woods has been a majors no-show this season. He finished T-4 at the Masters and T-6 at the Open Championship. His T-32 at the U.S. Open -- not so much. In his previous 17 majors, he has nine top-10s and eight top-six finishes.

Doesn't sound like a guy who is suffering from confidence issues.

"It seems like a long time, and it is a long time, I guess," Stricker said of Woods' majors drought. "But his game is trending in the right direction … I'm not worried about him."

Golf had its heart removed centuries ago. It doesn't care that Woods spent part of his Friday dropping his clubs in frustration, crouching in disbelief, rolling his eyes in amazement. It enjoys seeing others suffer. And when it comes to the majors lately, Woods is suffering.

He has had these streaks before, going 10 majors in the late 1990s before he won one and another 10 majors between 2002 and 2005 before he broke through. But this winless streak is harder to understand, mostly because of how well Woods has played this season.

Truth is, golf isn't a history or drama major. If it were, Woods would have had No. 15 by now. But golf is making him work for it.

In the past, Woods made it look easy. It isn't. Forget about winning 19 majors, as Woods is trying to do in his quest to pass Jack Nicklaus. Try to win one. Lee Westwood can tell you all about it.

"The next major's always the hardest," Love said. "If he wins one more, it'll get maybe a little easier … Someone asked me the other day, 'Do you think he'll break Jack's record?' And I said that if he keeps playing -- and he's won one out of every four tournaments he plays in -- the odds are, yes. Just do the math."

Woods has done the math for the weekend and he knows the equation isn't in his favor. He would need a golf miracle. The human would have to morph into Woods the superhuman.

Anything is possible. But probable? Not at this PGA Championship. Not by this Aug. 9 version of Woods.

And you know what? That's OK.

"You can't win every week," Love said.

Instead, Woods can look ahead to the week of April 7, 2014.

Masters week.

Gene Wojciechowski | email

Columnist / College Football reporter

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