Has Tiger lost his nerve in major championships?

June 17, 2013 | Drew Forrester

I know he’s had some physical issues.  His move to instructor Sean Foley was done in large part because Foley’s teaching theory of flattening the club out and standing up through the shot puts less stress on Tiger’s back and neck, two issues that bothered him late in the last decade.  It’s tough to play great golf when you’re physically challenged, and even though he hasn’t used injuries as an excuse, per-se, there’s no doubt in my mind Tiger hasn’t been 100% healthy over the last few years.

There’s also the obvious personal drama that he created in 2009.  That whole fiasco obviously took its toll on him mentally, although he’s never really admitted to such.

More than anything, though, it could just be as simple as what John Elliott hinted to me in 2006.  Even a great player like Tiger Woods can lose his confidence.  All it takes is one bad experience.

If you’re sizing up a 10-foot right to left slider and you just don’t have the gumption to hit it firm enough to take the break you think exists, that’s called “losing your nerve”.  Putting in major championships is all about speed control and combining it with your ability to read the right amount of break and marry the two to put the ball in the hole.  Doing that requires you to “pull the trigger” without regard for the outcome.  It takes nerve…a lot of it…and Tiger did it better than anyone from 1997 until 2009.

Without question, players who are either average or poor putters – by TOUR standards – have a hard time winning major titles.  A few names that come to mind – all without a major – were or still are excellent ball strikers who just couldn’t putt well enough in major tournaments to win at least one of them; Lee Westwood, Colin Montgomerie, Jeff Maggert and Steve Stricker, just to name four.

I’d be shocked if Tiger finished his career on 14 major titles.  He’ll win another one by accident, at some point, when he just hits it stiff on 24 of the 72 holes and makes 12 birdies and 2 eagles en route to something like the 2018 British Open title.

But, it’s sure looking more and more like Jack’s record of 18 major titles is safe, particularly with the non-factor Tiger has become in just about every major except the Masters, where he seems to produce an annual challenge before the flat stick fails sometime through the middle of Saturday’s 3rd round.

I miss seeing him win major titles, honestly.

Golf was a lot more fun and a helluva lot more interesting when Tiger Woods was pounding people for a dozen years.

Tiger didn’t have to wear octopus pants to be noticed.

He was easy to spot, since he was usually standing on the green with the trophy at sunset.

Now, though, it looks like Woods has run out of charm.

Only time will tell.  And he has at least fifty major championships left to play pending good health, so it’s not like he’s in the November of his career or anything like that.

But the clock is now starting to tick on the great one.

Was John Elliott right?

It sure looks like he might have been.