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August 20, 2013

Numbers Don't Lie: Inside Tiger's major drought

Posted at 2:06 PM by Golf.com | Categories: Tiger Woods

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Tiger Woods waits on the tee during a rainy second round of the 2009 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black (Getty Images).

By Sal Johnson

So how did all of this happen?

When Tiger Woods won the 2008 U.S. Open, he was on pace to become the most prolific major winner of all time. When he won at Torrey Pines, it was his 14th win in 46 professional majors and at 32 years, 5 months old he was 3 years younger than what Jack Nicklaus was when he won his 14th major at the 1975 PGA Championship.

Things have changed drastically for Woods. When he plays next years Masters it will be just two months short of 6 years and 22 majors gone by since Woods' last win. Many trace Woods problems to his personal problems at the end of 2009, but his play in the majors showed signs of the downfall before then, including losing the 2009 PGA Championship despite starting the fourth round with a two-shot lead, the first time Woods ever-lost a third round lead in a major.

When Woods won the 2008 U.S. Open many thought that Woods would catch and pass Nicklaus in five years time. Instead of passing Nicklaus' 18 major total, Woods will be stuck at 14 majors at the start of the 2014 Masters and still have four majors to win just to tie him.

In Woods' prime, his M.O. for winning was to play a conservative first round, then put the pedal to the metal in the second and third rounds to get into Sunday with the lead or share of the lead and hold on for victory. Since blowing the 2009 PGA Championship to Y.E. Yang on the last day, Woods has not had a share of the third-round lead since. Going a step further, in the 13 final rounds since 2010, Woods has only shot in the 60s twice, as he has played those final rounds in 11 over par.

The numbers don't lie.

Majors 1997 to 2008                                         Since the 2009 Masters

46                                    Starts                                            18

14                                    Wins                                               0

5                                      Seconds                                          1

3                                      Thirds                                             1

26 (56.5%)                      Top-fives                              6 (35.3%)

30 (65.5%)                      Top-10s                               9 (52.9%)

41 (89.1%)                      Top-25s                              12 (70.6%)

45 (97.8%)                      Cuts made                           16 (88.8%)

 

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Photo: Tiger Woods slashes out of the thick hay at the 2013 Open Championship at Muirfield (Ross Kinnaird/R&A).

Comparison of Tiger Round by Round in the Majors

1997 to 2008                                           Since the 2009 Masters

-1                     Totals for the 1st round                                 -9

-62                   Totals for the 2nd round                                -3

-41                   Totals for the 3rd round                                +7

-18                   Totals for the final round                               +1

 

Comparison of Tiger in Fairways Hit in Majors

1997 to 2008                                           Since the 2009 Masters

68.2%                  Total fairways hit                                     63.7%

62%                  Totals for the 1st round                                65%

62%                 Totals for the 2nd round                                65%

65%                  Totals for the 3rd round                                66%

66%                 Totals for the final round                               56%

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At the 2013 PGA Championship at Oak Hill, Woods rarely used driver. When he did, he often missed its mark (AP Photo).

Comparison of Tiger in Greens Hit in Majors

1997 to 2008                                           Since the 2009 Masters

68.3%                   Total Greens hit                                     64.8%

65%                 Totals for the 1st round                                 68%

68%                 Totals for the 2nd round                                 64%

71%                 Totals for the 3rd round                                 66%

67%                Totals for the final round                                61%

 

Comparison of Tiger in Making Birdies in Majors

1997 to 2008                                           Since the 2009 Masters

3.94/round             Total birdies made                       3.68/round

3.4                      Totals for the 1st round                             3.6

4.2                    Totals for the 2nd round                              3.6

3.8                     Totals for the 3rd round                              3.3

3.7                     Totals for the final round                             3.4

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Photo: Woods finished three shots back and tied for third at the 2010 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach/ (Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Comparison of Tiger in Making Pars in Majors

1997 to 2008                                           Since the 2009 Masters

11.71/round                Total birdies made                 11.81/round

11.2                       Totals for the 1st round                           11.4

11.1                      Totals for the 2nd round                           11.3

11.3                      Totals for the 3rd round                           11.2

11.0                     Totals for the final round                           10.4

 

Comparison of Tiger in Making Bogeys in Majors

1997 to 2008                                           Since the 2009 Masters

2.76/round             Total birdies made                    3.23 per round

2.8                       Totals for the 1st round                             2.6

2.6                      Totals for the 2nd round                             2.7

2.4                       Totals for the 3rd round                             3.5

3.0                     Totals for the final round                              3.3

*(round by round stats not available for British Open pre-2003)

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