After his weekend stumble in the recent US Open, Tiger Woods was asked about his confidence.
He replied, I feel good. I wasnt very far off today.
Alan Shipnuck wrote in Sports Illustrated, Woods used to lie only to reporters. Now hes lying to himself.
Shipnuck added, Woods lost weekend should put to rest any notion that he is back. The single-minded, indomitable player who lived in a bubble of his own making is never coming back. Woods will win more tournaments but hes now like a lot of other guys on Tourhe can hit all the shots, but he is vulnerable to pressure and undermined by doubt.
Shipnuck may be right. None of us knows. Well have to wait and see whats down the road.
Meanwhile, though, Tiger is making a case for himself as the best player out there again. Whos having a better year?
He has won three times this year, a huge year for the average Tour player, and he has done it on golf courses that demand excellence, patience and resolve Bay Hill, Memorial and Congressional.
That is reminiscent of Jack Nicklaus, the man whom Woods passed into second place among all-time winners Sunday and whose record of 18 major championships Tiger is chasing.
Nicklaus cared little for ordinary golf courses and shunned them whenever he could. He favored hard courses because he had more of what was required to play them than most. Woods is equally selective about where he plays.
The golf Woods played Sunday in a shootout with Bo Van Pelt for the AT&T National title at bitterly tough Congressional was about as close to flawless as youre likely to see in such circumstances. There were a couple of missed drives and one serious misclub but there were also a spectacular Tigeresque recovery shot and a command of a course that played much harder than it had for the US Open a year earlier.
This is not to say hes back to what he was before personal problems and injuries knocked him down. He may never be that again. But hes drawing huge crowds of cheering fans and hes driving TV ratings up. And hes winning like old times.