Tiger Woods: A Giant Rendered Powerless

Will Leivenberg@@will_leivenbergFeatured ColumnistNovember 14, 2010

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 12:  Tiger Woods of the USA looks dejected after missing a putt during day two of the Australian Masters at The Victoria Golf Club on November 12, 2010 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

It's been just about a year since Tiger Woods' car accident.

Do you remember exactly where you were when you heard about Tiger Woods?

Yeah, me too.

It all happened so suddenly, didn’t it?

A giant was rendered powerless faster than it takes to say “Winless in 2010,” which is exactly what Tiger Woods was this season.

Whether Woods will view his season with anger or apathy is uncertain.  After all, the former No. 1-ranked player in the world for more than 250 weeks was not accustomed to his season highlights being defined by a couple of T4’s at the majors, a few solid finishes in the Fed-Ex Cup and a slew of mediocre performances, highlighted by a T78 in a field of 80 players at the WGC-Bridgestone at Firestone.

Watching Woods compete this season was like being stuck in some kind of parallel universe. He still threw clubs, wore red on Sundays, rarely smiled and blended emotional volatility and total stoicism during competition.

But the only difference was that in between all of that, he wasn’t winning.

Actually, scratch that. He kind of just looked like the other guys.

Like golf was hard for him.

It was as if he couldn’t visualize the correct line of the double-breaking putt over a mountainous tier of a putting green faster than a table-top.

Or that he couldn’t draw his ball around a gigantic tree for 30 yards and then have it magically stop on command within three feet of the hole.

To be frank, he was an inconsistent mess.

This season, Woods had just one tournament where he shot all four rounds under par.

That’s like saying Ray Allen didn’t make a free-throw last season or that Albert Pujols didn’t get a hit.

The only thing consistent about Tiger this season was, ironically, his inconsistency. There’s no reason behind season-long results. Sometimes he’d start off his tournament with a promising under-par round, but then shoot two dismal over-par rounds that eliminated his chances of winning.

Sunday may have been a day of resurgence, but ultimately meaningless because he’d put himself so far behind, such as last week at the HSBC Champions (68-72-73-68) and this past week at the Aussie Masters (69-72-71-65).

How will golf critics and fans alike define this season?

What was it really?

Are we supposed to believe that had Tiger not been "caught" that the US would have won the Ryder Cup?

Or perhaps that a 21-year-old Rickie Fowler wouldn’t have earned eight Top 10 finishes? Or that Martin Kaymer wouldn’t have won three consecutive tournaments in the same year, including a major championship?

This has been anything but an unforgettable year in golf because for every time Tiger was in the field, he failed to defeat the rampage of phenomenal golfers who stormed through the gates.

If anything 2010 was about young guns like Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler establishing a presence on Tour. It was about the vets like Jim Furyk, Ernie Els and Steve Stricker reminding the competition they’ve still got game.

Don't forget Matt Kuchar, who performed with poise and consistency all season long.

When we look past Woods’ lackluster season, a luminous year of golf took place.

In the end, it was the season of Dustin Johnson.

In the midst of Johnson’s trauma and tragedy, he refused to utter Marlon Brando’s famous, regretful phrase, “I coulda been a contender, I coulda been somebody.”

Instead of cowering after his faults, he climbed back into the ring like Ali facing Foreman for the Rumble in the Jungle.

This 25-year-old kid played far beyond his years this season, winning twice, earning a position on the US Ryder Cup squad, contending in the major championships and doing it all with integrity—that’s what golf is all about.