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A Tame Tiger Woods is Tough to Watch

Tiger Woods defied the odds to come back and win the Masters in April. It was one of those Earth-shattering sports moments that inspired imagination and made people believe that anything is possible.

There’s a funny thing about possible, though. It means a far different thing than probable. And as we watched Woods grit his teeth, chase his ball, and fail to make the cut at the Open Championship, we realize once again just how unlikely that magical Augusta weekend was and how it may be the final apex-level coda of an otherworldly career.

Woods struggled through 36 holes at Royal Portrush. He grimaced on his very first drive. He seemed subdued, his emotions never bubbling to the surface. He obviously cares. But it didn’t look like he cared.

Consider his comments after a disastrous opening round 78 where he said that this is “just the way it is” and “just the way it’s going to be.”

Is that because he knows that his body, as currently constructed, is not up to the challenge of major golf? Is it because he knows that the Masters was a bolt of lightning and that the thunder is still rolling through his achy joints an balky back? Or is it because he’s made his peace after climbing the mountaintop one last time?

This is all armchair psychology. With age comes perspective. The Tiger of old wouldn’t be content with winning the Masters. He’d want the other three majors that year and every year.

Woods has played 12 tournament rounds since the Masters. He won’t play the WGC next week. There can be too much of a good thing and he obviously needs to be on a pitch count, but it’s hard to argue that his lack of practice has resulted in a rusty, rhythm swing.

While we were treated to a vintage version of Tiger in April, we’re suffering through what appears to be an expired version right now. It’s a bit depressing, a bit sad, and a bit confusing.

As the season winds down, he feels as far away from a major as he’s been in a year. But we’ve been there before. Anything with Woods is possible. It’s just probable that things will continue to be tough to watch.