Well, as we head into the final turn of the PGA 500, where would you put Tiger Woods on the home stretch? Is he Tiger Woods anymore? Will he break Jack's record? Fifty years from now, how will golf's history view his legacy?
At best, at this point, it's a tale of two careers. Tiger pre-"The Day," and Tiger post-"The Day." The day golf history detoured; the day golf history derailed. Any way you cut "The Day," Tiger Woods as we had come to know him ceased to be the Tiger we had grown to marvel at.
Is he still a fine player? No doubt, with three PGA Tour wins this year. A brilliant year by anyone's tour standards. Except Tiger's.
On the weekends of this year's majors, Tiger was more than 15 over par. On Sundays, he was +8! If you had walked into a sports book in Vegas last January, and wanted odds on Tiger being +15 on weekends at majors in 2012, what type of line would you have gotten, and which way would you have wagered?
You have to wonder how damaged is this great player's psyche? Can he return to any form of dominance? I think the longer he goes without a magic moment in a major, the harder it will be to be able to hold form on a weekend anytime he gets in the hunt.
Tiger aside, where is Phil Mickelson? One has to wonder how heavy the burden has been on him from a family and personal physical standpoint. Amy and his mom's health, and his own health all have seemed to have taken a toll on his ability to stay focused, not to mention the physical pain he must endure playing with his arthritic condition. Yes, I know he has the best medical folks money can buy. Then I wonder if the medicine needed for his condition affects his play at a world-class level. It can't be easy.
How about these numbers? Tiger Woods, 130 wins worldwide, 14 majors. Phil, 53 wins worldwide, four majors. Combined 183 wins worldwide! 183!
It just shows why folks like Dr. Bob Rotella, the noted sports psychologist, are such sought after commodities on the PGA Tour.
It is very interesting to me that you never hear much about Tiger or Phil seeking this type of counseling. It is not to say they haven't done this in private. One would wonder if they would view it publicly as a sign of weakness.
Will Tiger or Phil every win a major again? Will we ever see them hoist a major trophy again? Does either have one last magic moment a la Jack Nicklaus in 1986?
If they don't, what a show they both put on for us. The unbelievable moments they provided, the many "Godlike" shots they struck, the bombs each holed out in clutch situations. They were this generation's Jack and Arnie, and that's a compliment reserved for only a select few in any generation.
Boy, I'd love to watch the craziness of each at least one more time!
TP's Tip: If you find your ball snug up against a deep fringe around the green, but not completely in it, and contact with any club is difficult, try this:
Take out your putter and turn it sideways so the toe of the putter is pointing directly at the ball. Make a few rehearsal motions to get the feeling of creating a downward blow with the nose of the putter head. Because the surface of the nose of the putter is so small, it may take a little practice to find solid contact, but once you master that, you'll never have problems with that lie again.
Tom Patri gives lessons at the Quarry on Immokalee Road, and is at Friar's Head in New York from May-December. Patri is a Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher. Visit Patri's website at www.tompatri.com, www.facebook.com/TomPatri or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.