BY SIYA MCHUNU
Isn’t it amazing how Tiger Woods can go ten years without winning a Major and still be priced at 29/1 ahead of the PGA Championship, late on a Wednesday afternoon.
The gambling community has not stopped believing in Woods, who has been in undeniably good form this season.
How can anybody ignore his four top-ten finishes this season? It is impossible to ignore the outstanding week Woods had at the Valspar Championship, where he carded 275, to secure a second placed finish.
Just last month, the 14-time Major winner finished sixth at the most prestigious tournament in the world.
However, we have all been down this road before, five years ago, when Woods made his first meaningful comeback.
Early in 2013 Woods won the Farmers Insurance Open, the WGC-Cadillac and Arnold Palmer Invitational. Everything about his form that season suggested the upcoming Masters Tournament was his to lose.
For much of that tournament he looked like he would win and then boom, he hit the pin at the par-5 15th, found some water, took an illegal drop and was assessed a two-stroke penalty. The rest is history.
Then Woods went on to win the Players for a second time – better than most! It was his fourth win of the season, the quickest he had secured four wins in a season too. The upcoming US Open was there for the taking. He finished the tournament 13-over-par.
At that year’s Open Championship, Woods started the final round two strokes back but just couldn’t kick on when it mattered most.
He won his fifth tournament of the year at the WGC-Bridgestone and again, everything pointed to a resounding win at the PGA Championship and quite frankly Oak Hill just beat him.
Folks, being a Tiger Woods fan has been a depressing business during the past decade, and even more so for the punters.
Logic says Woods has a genuine chance at Bellerive Country Club this weekend, but sometimes these things are just written in the stars.
This season has been his best on the PGA Tour yet, having recorded Top Ten finishes at the Masters, US Open and The Open. Finau will win a Major tournament. We do not know when that will be, but we are sure it won’t be this weekend.
The hugely talented American has finished in the Top Ten eight times this season and his best result was recorded in his first tournament of the 2017/18 campaign. His season has not unravelled, by any stretch of the imagination, but there is no doubt that he peaked very early.
It is very difficult to sustain that kind of form throughout. The friendly giant is an absolute pleasure to watch but he has yet to master the art of closing a big tournament. And yeah, that is where we are.
In the past four years, the South African has finished in the Top Ten of the Majors five times, twice at the PGA Championship and twice at the US Open. It is becoming a thing now.
Of those five “successes” one will likely eat away at the South African more than any other – Chambers Bay 2015.
South African golfers are famously outstanding competitors at the tough golf courses. For 54 holes at Chambers Bay, Grace reinforced that school of thought. While most of the field got blown away by the course, he found himself in a share for the lead through 54 holes.
With just three holes to play, Grace still found himself in the lead. The writing appeared to be on the wall, until his ball ran into a railway line on the 16th. A promising tournament over… just like that. That has been the trend for Grace at many of the Majors since then.
Always in contention but somehow finding a way to let the title slip through his fingers. A golfer with many redeeming qualities but yet to prove that he can close the deal at the big ones. He will have another chance this weekend.
Very few on the PGA or European Tours have a more beautiful swing. The quiet confidence is also appealing. Not to mention his chiseled looks.
More significantly, perhaps, this South African has closed the deal before, way back in 2011, at the most famous venue of them all – Augusta.
Schwartzel is a very consistent golfer, outside of the Majors. His 24 professional wins would suggest as much. Which is why it has become increasingly mind-boggling to everybody that he hasn’t been able to close the deal at the biggest tournaments since that famous victory.
He has been cut at the last three Majors, rendering his three Top Ten finishes this year totally and utterly meaningless – even though one of them was second at TPC Sawgrass.
Another South African with a devastatingly beautiful swing, something for the textbooks really. He is also a charming fellow and that is perhaps the edge that he lacks right now.
He has finished second at a Major four times in his career.
All four are tournaments that he could have and probably should have won. It is a surprising return, given that all four of those second-placed finishes came after he had seemingly mastered the art of closing the deal – at the 2010 Open Championship.
Two of those Major defeats were in playoffs. The one against Bubba Watson probably still lingers in the memory more than the others.
It is really just a sign that despite three Top Ten finishes this season, King Louis isn’t going to get that throne back this weekend, even though the tournament is being played at St Louis.
This golfer is one who understands heartbreak and disappointment as well as any other.
He has been in four play-off events on the PGA Tour and he has lost all four tournaments.
Three of those defeats came in 2015, at the Greenbrier, Players and RBC Heritage.
This season he finished second at the WGC-Matchplay and again at The Open. On both occasions the odds seemed to defy him.
Kisner has a poker face and cool look but surely somewhere in the deep recesses of his mind there is one voice which consistently reminds him of his failure to cross the final hurdle.
Kisner’s journey has been a troublesome business. He obviously wants a Major, he deserves a Major but does he have the mental and testicular fortitude to finish the task? Time has not given it proof.
One of the most popular and genuinely unique players on the PGA Tour. It is quite frankly difficult to think of a Major tournament where he has not been in contention. He loves the Masters, The Open and the PGA Championship.
This man has eleven Top Ten finishes at the Majors and every year you get the impression he is going to do it. Yet every year he comes short.
He is a golfer who builds the fan and gambling man up often, but he will leave you in tears more often than not. At some point you just have to cut your losses with this man.
He is dashing, he is flamboyant, he is aggressive and a fantastic ball striker. He lives up to the Argentinean stereotype, almost in every way. Much like his country’s beloved football team, he often flatters to deceive.
The 2016 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year, appeared to have it all. Yet he has produced a long list of sweet nothings since winning the 2015 Frys.com Open. He won that tournament in a playoff too, proof – or so we thought – that this man had the testicular fortitude to cross the line when it mattered most.
However, he just can’t seem to cut it at the Majors. In fact, he has been cut at all of his last five Majors. Nobody understands why.
Five Top Ten finishes this year and nothing to show for it. This man will leave you with a broken heart.