- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 25, 2008

No professional golfer will ever have a year when he wins every tournament he enters. It’s a measure of Tiger Woods‘ greatness that he even makes us consider the possibility. I mean, here’s how ridiculous a notion it is: When Tiger putted out on 18 in the CA Championship yesterday to secure his fifth-place finish, I shook my head and said, “Gee, he only came up 15 tournaments short.”

Now, maybe, the PGA Tour can return to some semblance of normalcy. The Masters, Woods‘ next public appearance, would have been absolutely wild if he’d been 4-for-4 in 2008 heading into Augusta (and 7-for-7, counting the Dubai Desert Classic, going back to September). The competition for restaurant tables would have been so fierce, I might have not have eaten Wednesday dinner until Saturday morning.

So thanks, Tiger — from the bottom of my stomach — for shooting that pedestrian 72 in the third round at Doral, which kept you from Tour victory No. 65. Thanks for showing yourself to be at least a teensy bit human. It’s so discouraging for the other fellas, Lefty especially, when you win everything in sight, even your own (unofficial) clambake in December.

Once again, though, we find ourselves wondering: How many things are beyond this guy’s reach? After all, Woods‘ latest streak started not long after the birth of his first child — an event, some suggested, that might hamper his play … at least in the short term. Instead, he spent a month mastering the arts of bottle warming, diaper changing, burping and cradle rocking — the Grand Slam of fatherhood — and then went off on the most torrid stretch of his career: 10 tournaments, nine wins, one tie for second. (Or as I like to call it, the Sam Alexis Woods Trust Fund Tour.)

Not that the world needs any more Woods-Nicklaus comparisons, but Tiger seems to be hitting his peak at the same age Jack did. The Golden Bear, too, was 32 when he had his greatest year, winning seven titles in ‘72 and taking a serious run at the Slam. He won seven more tournaments the next year and, nearly as impressive, finished in the top 10 in 16 of 18 times out.

Which gets me to thinking: What other feats are out there for Woods, accomplishments he can shoot at while waiting for victory No. 83, major No. 19, kid No. 2 and billion No. 1? A single-year Slam as opposed to the backdoor Tiger Slam he pulled off in 2000 and 2001? Yeah, I suppose it’s within reason, but it’s only slightly more fathomable than the most recent impossible dream, the one that had him winning every event he entered this year.

How about placing in the top 10 in every event he tees off in? That’s something no one in the modern age has done, and it’s much more realistic. Tiger, let’s not forget, had 17 top 10s in 20 tournaments in 2000, and Nicklaus, as previously stated, went 16-for-18 in ‘73.

Conclusion: Difficult but definitely doable.

Here’s another mountain Woods could try to climb in ‘08: Shoot par or better in every round. Before you say, “What are you, nuts?” consider the following:

Tiger has already had a year — 2000 to be exact — when he finished under par in every tournament. (The closest Jack came was in ‘73, when he finished under par in 16 events and even in two.)

• In that same 2000, Woods began a streak in which he shot par or better in 52 consecutive rounds, the all-time record. Fifty-two rounds, I’ll just point out, is the equivalent of 13 tournaments, and Tiger only plays 18 or 19 a year now. Heck, in his four times out this year, he’s been under par 11 days and even once (the aforementioned 72 at Doral).

Conclusion: This would be an incredible feat, as brutal as U.S. Open courses are and given how much harder the Greencoats have made Augusta. In last year’s dried-out conditions at the Masters, Woods, a four-time champ, didn’t break par once (and still tied for second). If it doesn’t rain again this year, we’ll be looking at similar scores, no doubt. Put it this way: If Woods goes an entire year without an over-par round, it would have to rank among his greatest exploits — right up there with putting a tournament together in Washington, the inaugural AT&T; National, in a mere three months.

Anyway, if Tiger is looking for some extra incentive during this long, hot golf season, those two goals might be worth pursuing. Orrrr … he can continue filling his closet with green jackets, until he has one for every day of the week. It’s up to him.

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