The last time we saw Tiger Woods playing golf, he looked disinterested and, at times, in pain. He grimaced after his first tee shot at The Open Championship and failed to make the cut during a perfunctory performance at the year’s last major.
Fast forward to today, when he played in the pro-am ahead of the Northern Trust Open, the first tournament of the FedExCup playoffs. It seems Tiger is in a similar place mentally: ready to jump on his private jet and get the hell out of New Jersey.
Since winning the Masters in April, Tiger has looked like a shell of his early-season self, shooting two rounds in the 60s vs. 10 in the 70s and missing two cuts in four events, including two majors. At The Open, he looked disengaged. After the round, he stated simply, “I just want to go home,” an aura of exhaustion and dejection emanating during the admission.
Now, the report above from his pro-am round shouldn’t be taken to mean Tiger is done, disinterested, and less than 100 percent this week. The reality is that he’s always hated pro-ams. But the fact he’s just messing around ahead of the last big round of tournaments of the year tells you everything you need to know about his mental focus heading into the FedExCup Playoffs. That is, he would rather be home. Honestly, can you imagine Tiger hamming it up for the cameras and skipping an entire hole mid-practice round 10 years ago? Hell no!
For giggles, here’s what his swing looks like right now, though we don’t get a full view with Rory overlaid.
It’s smooth. It’s on plane. It’s solid. But is that what made Tiger the best for all those years? Is it why we all loved watching him? No. That came from his unwavering competitiveness. It’s why he didn’t miss a cut in a major until he started getting hurt. He never gave an inch. Every shot mattered. Every tournament mattered. Every moment was a grind, and that grind included practice rounds.
Tiger’s tee time in the first round of The Northern Trust is 7:43 A.M. ET on Thursday. Then, and only then, can we truly judge where his head is. But the Tiger Woods who played in the pro-am on Wednesday isn’t the same Tiger who starred down the best in the world at Augusta and came out with his 15th major. It’s a new Tiger, a Tiger who isn’t interested in proving himself every time he steps on the golf course. This Tiger would rather be home.