Tiger Woods gearing up for PGA
Could 100 PGA Tour wins be realistic for Woods?
Tiger Woods' victory at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational might have created more questions than answers for the No. 1 player in the world. What does it mean for the upcoming PGA Championship? Will he now end his major drought at Oak Hill? Can he win on a course he doesn't "own"?
Our scribes answer those questions and more in this week's edition of Monday Four-Ball.
1. Which would be better major preparation the week prior to the PGA Championship for Tiger, a lopsided victory or a back-nine dogfight?
Michael Collins, ESPN.com senior golf analyst: Back-nine dogfight. When's the last time he coasted to victory in a major? He's been in two dogfights in two majors I can think of: Y.E. Yang beat him at the 2009 PGA and he beat Rocco at the 2008 U.S. Open. Think if he's close to the lead going into the weekend at the PGA that he's going to draw anything from the past week? Me either.
Farrell Evans, ESPN.com senior golf writer: It doesn't matter how Tiger wins the week prior to a major. His fierce mental focus never wavers, regardless of the competition or the situation.
Bob Harig, ESPN.com senior golf writer: Not sure it matters much. The key is to come away feeling good about your game and with some confidence. Tiger has won four of his majors after winning his previous start, but 10 without. That suggests he's just as likely to win one having been working on his game in private.
Kevin Maguire, ESPN.com senior golf editor: The dogfight. Tiger's cakewalk in Akron looks good in the trophy case and the bank account, but didn't really do anything to help him prepare mentally for the rigors of Oak Hill. And we all know at this point his lack of a major win since 2008 is mental. He's of course playing well enough to win multiple majors in a season but just hasn't been able to break through.
2. If you had to vote for the PGA Tour player of the year award before the PGA Championship, who gets the honor?
Michael Collins: Tiger definitely is POY right now. Five wins and good finishes in a couple majors pretty much wraps it up. That being said, if Phil Mickelson wins the PGA Championship, all bets are off.
Another Tiger Runaway
Tiger Woods likes to win -- and win big -- on the PGA Tour. Since his first year on tour in 1996, Tiger Woods has the most victories by six or more shots, and it's not even close. Here's a look:
|Davis Love III||2|
|-- Includes Sunday at Bridgestone|
-- Elias Sports Bureau
Farrell Evans: Tiger is the player of the year because he has five wins. But looking forward, it would be hard to look past Phil Mickelson if he captures the PGA. That would give him two majors and three PGA Tour wins overall on the year.
Bob Harig: Phil Mickelson, simply because he has a major championship. While the Scottish Open is not a PGA Tour tournament, it is still a victory to be considered, giving him three to Tiger's five. Woods does have two WGCs and the Players, however, which makes for a strong argument.
Kevin Maguire: Phil Mickelson. And it's not just because he won the most recent major. These guys play for the biggies, the ones that etch your name into the history books. You don't think Tiger would trade all of his five wins so far this year for just a single major in 2013? He'd do it in a heartbeat. That's why Lefty gets my vote since neither of the year's other major winners (Adam Scott or Justin Rose) have another PGA Tour win to their credit.
3. What did you see, if anything, at Firestone to make you think the Tiger of old will emerge with a major win at Oak Hill?
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Michael Collins: Nothing. His ball striking over the weekend wasn't something I would think he wants to take to Oak Hill. And if he hits 50 percent of his greens in regulation like he did on Saturday at Firestone, he'll have zero chance of breaking that five-year oh-fer streak.
Farrell Evans: In 2013, Tiger has won five of his 11 starts on the PGA Tour. So there has been ample evidence of his dominance in the tournaments he has played. What's clear is that, through three majors this year, he has not been the same player that he was in most of his other events.
Bob Harig: The ball striking. That is the key for Tiger. Two big tournaments in a row, he has hit the ball well enough for a good part of the tournament to win. It fell off in the final round at the Open Championship and that, more than putting, cost him there.
Kevin Maguire: The miracle shots. Two specific swings (and neither came during his 61 on Friday) were when he pulled off a 60-yard fade down a fairway from some deep rough on Saturday and also chipped in for birdie when making par would have been amazing. Those are the type of shots Tiger would pull off during that nine-hole stretch of a major that would leave you in awe. If he can will the ball into the hole again, a 15th major is certainly possible, if not likely, this week.
4. For argument's sake, let's assume Tiger Woods (79 career PGA Tour wins) will break Sam Snead's record of 82. What's a realistic number for Woods to reach in his career?
Michael Collins: The ultimate goal has to be 100. Figure he "averages" three wins a year for the next seven years, he'd be only 44 when he's right there close to 100 wins. Easily within reach, if you break it down in "Tiger" terms.
Farrell Evans: Tiger should average three to four wins over the next five years. It would be very surprising to see him not win 100 times by the end of his career.
Bob Harig: There is nothing to suggest he can't win three a year through age 40 with one a year until age 45. At that pace -- winning nothing else this year -- that would be 14 more victories, for a total of 93. That seems about right.
Kevin Maguire: Is 100 career wins out of the question? You have to figure his pace will slow down once he gets into his 40s, and he'll turn 38 at the end of this year. If we conservatively estimate three wins a year, for eight more years to get him to 45, that would be 103. I can't imagine that record would ever be broken.
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