[This is the first of three Tiger Woods-related pieces I will write this week. This one is the most optimistic.]
There are three major points being ignored by the golf media, as well as Woods fans and detractors alike.
First, do you know what a downtrend channel is? Take a look:
When a stock (or index of stocks, in our example) is in decline, it doesn’t fall in a straight line. The same is true of most things in life, the loss of golf ability being one of them. A downtrend channel can be described as lower highs and lower lows.
There is some pretty dramatic variation within the confines of the channel, but the channel inexorably moves downward. Woods’s channel, like that of every golfer past his prime, is in decline. What you saw at Phoenix was Woods hitting the very bottom of his trendline. On the chart above, his performance would correlate to the low above the “d” in word “Downtrend.” If you look to the right on the chart, you see you can expect many more peaks, albeit lower peaks than ten years ago. Also, you can expect the occasional 79 or 80, although they should be relatively rare for a few more years.
There is no reason to think Woods’s Phoenix performance is a permanent thing. If a player’s decline were a straight line, it would be, but a golfer’s performance falls within a channel. The only exceptions to this would be if Woods has been severely affected by his recent injury or operation, or if he truly has “the yips.” Even in those cases, you would expect his performance to adhere to a channel, albeit one with a more severe downtrend.
Second, a new topic of discussion concerns Woods falling out of the OWGR top fifty (he is #56) and being ineligible for the WGC Cadillac Championship. Remember this: Woods has only 26 Counting Events in his OWGR calculation. The minimum divisor is 40. That means Woods could play 14 tournaments (if he so desired) for “free.” If he got zero points from them, it would not hurt his OWGR ranking. So, the points are all gravy, so to speak. (Once you reach 41 Counting Events, your divisor rises with each additional tournament.)
By the way, if you used Woods’s true divisor of 26, he would be ranked #22 in the world, easily within the top fifty. The bottom line is that, with decent play, Woods would have no problem re-entering the top fifty.
Lastly, there has been massive overreaction to Woods’s 82, just like there is massive overreaction when Woods does anything, including picking his kids up from school or wearing a red shirt or making a face after a shot. Our golf media is best described as idiots writing for idiots.
Just the day before the 82, Woods shot a “respectable” 73. No one thought the 73 was a sign of the Apocalypse. What changed overnight to make him incapable of breaking 80? Nothing. He merely had a bad day within his downtrend channel as stated above. It was an ugly anomaly within his downtrend, not to be mistaken with falling off a cliff. Nothing happened Thursday night to change things in such a massive way.