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He single-handedly changed the game of Golf for the better, one man who has had more influence on the game than any who have ever come before and, dare I say it - any who come next.
But for fans of the greatest golfer to ever play the game it seems that CAMP TIGER is awfully quiet and has been for an awfully long time. Let's explore the current landscape and ask the questions every Tiger Woods fan is asking....
When Will He Be Back?!
The Ongoing Battle of the World's Greatest Golfer
A couple of weeks before this year's US Masters, Tiger Woods launched his new book chronicling his 1997 Masters win. A lot has changed since the 21-year-old Tiger Woods changed the game twenty years ago.
Tiger ushered in a new era of long drives, athletic swings and a dedication to physical fitness. The irony is that all the new players now are using those tools to beat him every week.
The media have always hyped up young players as the "new Tiger" and while Charles Howell III, Ty Tryon and Michelle Wie never lived up to the promise, players like Rory Mcllory, Dustin Johnson, Jason Day, Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler and Henrik Stenson are true major winners.
What must make Tiger feel really old is that even younger players like Jon Rahm, Thomas Pieters and Jordan Spieth are just getting started.
A Young Man's Game
Tiger Woods is now 41, which is by no means old for a championship golfer. Greg Norman and Tom Watson had chances to win the British Open in their 50's and 60's. Jack Nicklaus was still winning majors in his 40’s, as was Ben Hogan. Some players improved as they got older: Vijay Singh, and Tiger's friend Mark O'Meara. But look at Nick Faldo and Seve Ballesteros who were both finished as winners in their late 30's.
The Writing is on the Wall
Golf fans and pundits alike point to Tiger's infidelities and crashing his SUV into a fire hose as the point when it all went wrong for Tiger. But astute observes saw signs were there before the 2009 scandals. His swing under Hank Haney wasn't as solid as it had been under Butch Harmon: he was scared of the driver and couldn’t find a fairway. He'd also lost his dad and had surgery on his knee in previous years.
One thing Tiger's absence has done is bring the odds very much in the punters favour, with his existence pushing golf popularity to new amazing levels. Now that he has gone the odds remain. It really is the game for the sports gambler in all of us. Visit WilliamHill.com.au to see the latest markets and Golf Odds
One step forward, two steps back
Tiger's comebacks since 2010 have flattered to deceive. Last December he played in the Bahamas and scored the most birdies out the entire field. If not for some double-bogeys he would have been in contention.
In February he played poorly to miss the cut in Torrey Pines and then only managed one round in Dubai before withdrawing.
Before each comeback, everybody in golf thinks: "He's ready this time. He's finally healthy. He's taken all the time off he needs." Then Tiger plays and shows some of his past form. Then he get's injured again and says that he needs "time off to get healthy." And the whole cycle starts again
Maybe Nike knows a lot more than we do when they decided to get out of golf club business. In the sports equipment business, money wins every time over hope.
Tiger's new book celebrates 20 years since he burst on to the world of golf. That book has a closing chapter to end a glorious run.
Now sadly, it's time to close the book on Tiger's professional golf career...
shhh, don't say anything though
This week the PGA Tour heads west to Texas for the Valero Texas Open. Being only two weeks since the Masters and less than a month away from the Players Championship, the lack of star players teeing it up this week is understandable.
Valero Texas Open Match Preview & Player Predictions
There are some former major winners in the field: Angel Cabrera, Stewart Cink, Ben Curtis, Retief Goosen, Graeme Mcdowell. But we don't expect any of them to be slipping on the cowboy boots come Sunday. Fans saw a stronger field last week in South Carolina, which made it easier to pick a winner.
It's not the only difference between last weeks RBC Heritage and this week’s tournament. In contrast to the small greens and test of accuracy in Harbor Town last week, the AT&T Oaks Course at TPC San Antonio measures 7,435yards. It's also a par-72 so put your money on a long-hitter who eats up par-5's to win. And don't forget the putting; the Oaks Course has large greens so avoiding 3-putts will be important.
Taking place in South Texas, the wind may play a factor so expect to see cut off swings like Kevin Costner's in Tin Cup. The weather forecast for this week is rain, thunderstorms and sunny on Sunday.
Charley Hoffman won the 2016 Valero Texas Open in fine style - see exactly how HERE
This Week's Contenders Include:
Bet on the Valero Texas Open with over 24 markets and the best odds down under - Simply visit our online betting partners at WilliamHill.com.au and see the golf section