Community notice: Missing Tiger foundPost by: Reece Lightning
// March 3rd, 2010 // Johnnie Walker Golf Club News
The rarest of all Tigers on the planet eventually surfaced his head a couple of Saturdays ago. And while the majority of us didn’t really care for the ‘state-of-the-nation-like’ apology for ‘indiscretions’ in his private life, collectively we were all desperate to find out when this phenomenal golfer would grace the fairways again.
Of the thirteen-minute carefully staged apology, the only piece of information that was of interest to the majority of us was: “I do plan to return to golf one day, I just don’t know when that day will be. I don’t rule out that it will be this year.” Yes, it was great to hear Tiger’s not extinct yet, but his cryptic forecast of when he’ll return to the game will have many players licking their lips. From his statement it’s still possible he may come back and play the Masters in April, but it does appear he’s likely to miss one, or some, of the big-four this season.
(A mrbojumbles piece as seen on Johnnie Walker Golf Club)
So for the rest of the golfing cream of the planet, this semi-closed door has left another wide open – the majors. Who will challenge in the absence of Tiger? It’s become a Pádriag Harrington scenario again – who has the metal to deliver without the distraction of that red shirt on Sunday? Because they might only have the Masters to do so.
The likely major contenders…
Phil Mickelson – Lefty’s also had his own share of distractions off the golf course, but for sheer talent and longevity as a top-five player in the world, it’s hard to look past Phil for at least one title. With five bridesmaid finishes at the US Open, perhaps it’s for the picking. Major most likely to win: The Masters / US Open
Steve Stricker – Possible current owner of the ‘best player to have never won a major’ tag. He’s the world number two which makes him the best player playing on the planet right now. He’s already won this year, and last year’s effort in the Fed Ex Cup proved he’s ready join the major party late on a Sunday arvo. Major most likely to win: The Masters.
Lee Westwood – He probably wouldn’t like to consider himself old-school at 36-years-old, but the European number one is in an extreme purple patch. He was a shot away from making the Open Championship playoff last year, and with a win already in twenty-ten, his form suggests he’s also ready to get the only piece of silverware his cabinet’s missing. Major most likely to win: The Open Championship.
Ian Poulter – Fancy pants is probably the most confident player on tour. In the March issue of Golf World (UK), Poulter was quoted: “Don’t get me wrong, I really respect every professional golfer, but I know I haven’t played to my full potential and when that happens, it will be just me and Tiger.” Poulter’s perhaps the only tour pro who would happily take a space next to Tiger on the range even if there were others available. His WGC Match-play victory has pretty much secured his Ryder Cup spot, so the world-number-five can now just enjoy the season. Major most likely to win: The US Open.
Henrik Stenson – The man with the nerves of steel. Sometimes it seems as if there’s no emotion running behind those Steven Flemming-esque shades. When he wins he looks to be in absolute control, his closing 66 to claim the Players Championship last year was a message he was ready to step up to the next level – I’m sure the Swede would look pretty sharp in emerald green too. Major most likely to win: The Masters / PGA Championship.
Sergio Garcia – Poor old Sergio. It seems an age since that famous duel with Woods at the 99 PGA Championship, when we all thought the 19-year-old Elnino would become Tiger’s Arnie. If only that putt had have caught the lip and dropped at the 07 Open Championship, the Spaniard may have gone on to do What Paddy Harry achieved. His talent can’t be ignored – he will win majors, plural. When his flat stick is on there are not many better. Major most likely to win: The US Open / The Open Championship.
The new school:
Rory McIlroy – For someone who didn’t play a single major in 2008, his performances in all four last year were superb. His talent’s been well documented and most are predicting very big things – and soon. He pushed Lee Westwood to the wire in the inaugural Race to Dubai last year, not bad for a 20-year-old with just one solitary victory on tour. It’s clear to all keen followers of the game his glorious swing can cope in the heat of a major, but is 2010 the year? Major most likely to win: The Open Championship.
Martin Kaymer – Such a flusher of the golf ball it’s bordering on machine-like. The 25-year-old hasn’t won in the States yet but has five European Tour wins in the past two years – including one this year. He has a 59 to his name and it’s about time Germany had a new Bernhard Langer – Get used to him, he’s here to stay. The kid is the real deal. Major most likely to win: The PGA Championship.
Ryo Ishikawa – At 15, Ishikawa became the youngest winner on the Japanese Holf Tour, and by the end of 2008, he had become the youngest ever player to crack the top 100 in the world rankings. Six Japanese Tour titles later, it’s easy to forget this kid is still only 18 – Eighteen! The Bashful Prince is seen as the saviour of Japanese golf, and what greater way to revive a sport in your nation than to win one of the biggest events going around. Major most likely to win: The PGA Championship
Obviously there are many players that potentially deserve to be included in this list, but on form, and the sport’s recent history, these names are the one’s knocking on the door – or just about to bust it down. So when the cats away, the mice will need to play, and to play well.