Tiger Woods fell flat on his face at the 2013 PGA Championship this past week. Against a fantastic field of the best golfers the world had to offer, the top-ranked player on the planet finished nowhere near the top.
It certainly matters, but in terms of how magnificent Woods has played throughout the season, his tie for 40th at Oak Hill doesn't sink his year to an outright disappointment.
At some point, success in golf has to be defined outside of the majors—those four tournaments that everyone places such a premium on. They are important to an elite golfer's legacy, yes, and Woods has won more of them than anyone save for Jack Nicklaus.
Given that fact, along with the dominance Woods has showcased in these marquee events in the past, his expectations have been tailored differently than anyone's in the game's history.
So let's readjust them, if only for this brief, however-many-minute break in your day.
Just before the PGA, Woods ran away from the field and won the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational by seven strokes, firing a second-round 61 that tied a career best.
It was Woods' 18th win at a World Golf Championship event, his eighth victory at Firestone and his fifth triumph of the current season.
Check out this statistic from Golf Channel's Jason Sobel:
Want to know how many combined major wins the Top 50 in the world have to Woods' 14 titles, before this season? 19.
Adam Scott, Justin Rose and PGA winner Jason Dufner are all in their 30s and just now getting it done on golf's biggest stages.
Instead of only looking at Woods' numbers in the majors—where, by the way, he had a great shot at winning both The Masters and The Open Championship—let's just have a brief glance at his season in general.
Woods leads the PGA Tour in total putting, all-around ranking, scoring average, money earnings and FedEx Cup points. Even with the poor outing in Pittsford, New York, he has won five of 12 events—or 41.6 of the time he's teed it up in competition.
Although he hasn't won at Augusta National since 2005, in seven of the last eight years, Woods has finished no worse than a tie for sixth. If not for this horrific break during the third round this year, he very well may have had his fifth green jacket:
That led to a two-shot penalty after a subsequent bad drop, and a score of triple-bogey eight instead of a possible eagle three on the par five. He still came in a tie for fourth.
If not for a dysfunctional flatstick that didn't net him any putts on Sunday and a tour-de-force performance from champion Phil Mickelson, it's possible Woods could have held the Claret Jug, too.
Not to defend Woods' lackluster performances on major weekends in the past several years, but golf is hard. Fields are getting deeper than ever. The prominence of fitness in the game has increased—largely due to Woods' ascent to greatness—and technology has helped create more parity, at least somewhat.
All of this works against Woods, as does the unimaginable pressure of chasing a record even his contemporaries could never imagine pursuing.
Woods may not have won a major since the 2008 U.S. Open, but if his current year outside of the majors is any indication, he's far from done being a serious threat in them.
If you went to Scott, Rose or Dufner before this season and asked them if they would take two legitimate chances at winning a major—where on a Sunday, anything can happen—five other victories and a lead in the FedEx Cup points, they would have taken it in a heartbeat.
Anyone would have. For whatever reason, the majors leave an indelible mark on Woods' resume—even if he cleans up in the FedEx Cup playoffs and wins multiple times in those four tournaments.
We can psychoanalyze Woods all we want, speculate as to why he's falling short in four particular tournaments and criticize him for it to no end.
What shouldn't be dismissed is how otherwise stupendous his 2013 has been, and entering the back nine with a chance on two occasions in a major championship to supplement his five victories should be enough to silence even the sharpest detractors.
Note: Statistics and information are courtesy of PGATour.com.
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