July 18, 2010–So one guy just ran away from the field at the Open Championship to become the Champion Golfer of the Year. Another guy spent the week flailing away with a brand new putter before going back to his old putter prior to the final round. One guy made eagles and birides in the final round of a major seemingly bringing a legendary layout to its knees. Another guy made bogeys, struggled for birdies, and had to make a late charge to finish in the top 25. Will the real Tiger Woods please stand up?–By Brian Hurlburt.
So that seems to be the major question in golf these days. What or who is the real Tiger Woods on the golf course? We here at GLVNow.com have always taken the stance that we really don't care about Tiger's tales off the course, but we do care a great deal about Tiger on the course. Not having the world's #1 player at his best is a major golf story, no matter the cause. And there is no debating that Tiger not winning is a pretty big story, but to us, the way he isn't winning is front page, headlines material. Tiger switching to a new putter he had never used on the eve of a Major? What? That's kind of like an Open Championship being delayed for wind. Oops. Looks like everything is upside down in 2010. Tiger switching putters, and seemingly acting like a 10-handicap searching for the magic cure before a Sunday $2 Nassau, is a sign of yet another, and maybe the biggest, chink in the armor of the best to ever walk the planet as a golfer.
Tiger is supposed to be the guy dominating St. Andrews, after all he did it twice before, winning by a combined 13 strokes in 2000 and 2005. It's not supposed to be Louis Oosthuizen winning by a mile and then having legends Paul Azinger and Tom Watson describe his performance as "surgicial" and a "masterpiece." Those comments coming while Tiger piled into the courtesy car, having finished long before the leaders headed up the famed 18th. His scorecard read like a journeyman pro: 67-73-73-72–285, good for a tie for 23rd. But the question we ask again, is this the real/new Tiger? In the past, when Tiger opened a major with a solid first round, he was money in the bank (back when money in a bank was a sure thing). Now Tiger is like money in a bank, only the bank just got bailed out, and Tiger seems to continually be searching for his personal bail out (in this case, a new putter).
The site of the 2010 Open Championship was St. Andrews, and we here in Las Vegas keep a special eye on this event because Las Vegas resort course Royal Links Golf Club features holes from many of the Open Championship courses, including three from St. Andrews. Playing Royal Links Golf Club is like playing golf in a museum, and this themed Las Vegas golf course fits right in with the themed hotels along the Las Vegas Strip. Click now to view the official website of Royal Links Golf Club, where you can meet the beautiful Par Mates, female caddies, or view the official photo gallery.
As many have stated, "If you can't putt, you can't play." And currently, Tiger is putting nothing like he used to stroke the ball. One expert recently stated that if Tiger had putted as he once did, he would have won a couple majors in 2009 plus at least one or two in 2010. The magic is gone, and that fact isn't lost on Tiger. "I have a new putter in the bag," said Tiger before the Open, stating the news like it was no big deal but, in reality, signaling an official end to the supreme confidence he had always had in his flatstick. "I've switched to the Nike putter for this week. It comes off faster, which on these greens is something that I've always struggled on slower greens. I haven't had to make that much of an adjustment because the ball is coming off a little bit quicker." He can justify all he wants, but the St. Andrews greens haven't changed much since 2000 and 2005, and the old Tiger would have never even contemplated switching putters. And he never, ever would have made a change.
All hail Louis, who looked the part of the best golfer to ever walk the planet, at least for one week. "It's unbelievable, after the 12th hole it actually became difficult having such a big lead, to keep calm, and I'm glad I had those shots on 18 because I cramped a little with the putter," said Oosthuizen. "It's just amazing." Las Vegas residents Nick Watney and Rickie Fowler had the best finishes of those with ties to Las Vegas golf courses. Watney was a T7 while Fowler was T14.