- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 25, 2002

One complaint Tiger Woods has with the media and the public is that they tend to exaggerate his performances, both good and bad.
Twice over the past 18 months, Woods went all of eight PGA Tour events without a victory and was said to be in a slump. Both times he wound up winning the Masters.
So maybe he wasn't all that bad.
When he won six straight Tour events, the longest streak in 52 years, and then became the first man to win four straight professional majors, suddenly there was a perception that Woods could not be beaten. Truth is, he has failed to win 86 of his 117 starts on tour.
So maybe he isn't perfect.
Between the Masters and the U.S. Open where Woods will either be in a slump or unbeatable but certainly the favorite here is a look at other myths and misperceptions about Tiger and the Tour:
Woods does not make mistakes on the back nine on Sunday when he's in contention:
Woods built a three-stroke lead at the Masters, then let everyone else crash trying to catch him.
Phil Mickelson summed it up best. "When other guys are up there, you know that if you can just stay around, there's a good chance they might come back two or three shots. But Tiger doesn't ever seem to do that."
No one ever seems to remember Dubai.
A year ago, Woods had a one-stroke lead over Thomas Bjorn with two holes to play when the Dane tied him with a birdie on No.17, then coasted to victory when Woods hit into the trees, the rough and the water for a double bogey on No.18.
During his record-setting 2000 season, Woods let a 54-hole lead get away twice to Lee Westwood in Germany (Woods hit into the water on No.11 and made double bogey) and to Mickelson at the Tour Championship.
But it doesn't happen very often.
Woods is 27-4 worldwide when he has at least a share of the lead going into the final round. Then again, his lead was at least two strokes in 17 of those 31 occasions.
Tiger Woods doesn't have the same caliber of challengers that Jack Nicklaus faced:
Nicklaus won six of his first 21 majors as a professional. During that span, only two other golfers won multiple majors (Arnold Palmer and Gary Player).
Woods won seven of his first 21 majors. During that span, only two other players have won multiple majors (Mark O'Meara and Vijay Singh).
Give it time.
There is a place in golf for the proposed Major Champions Tour:
November and December, the "silly season" months, would be a good fit. The Major Champions Tour would be for past major champions between the ages of 37 and 55. That group includes Greg Norman, Fred Couples, Nick Faldo, Seve Ballesteros, Nick Price, Curtis Strange, John Daly and Paul Azinger.
Almost all of them have had a chance to win a PGA Tour event in the past year, which is far more compelling than watching them try to beat one another in meaningless competition.
Plus, Arnold Palmer isn't eligible.
"It's too young for me, so the hell with it," the King said with a laugh.
The Major Champions Tour would kill the Senior PGA Tour:
The seniors already are doing that to themselves.
The belly putter, claw grip or belly-claw is the wave of the future:
At one point this year, Chris DiMarco and Mark Calcavecchia were ranked 1-2 in putting using the claw grip. Kevin Sutherland went to the claw and won the Match Play Championship. Heath Slocum tried the belly putter and nearly won in Hilton Head.
There is nothing wrong with using an unconventional style, especially if it works. Still, it's usually an act of desperation by those who aren't regarded as good putters in the first place (an exception is made for Rocco Mediate, who switched to the broom handle because of a bad back).
Has anyone ever seen Brad Faxon use the claw or Steve Stricker use a belly putter?
What about Tiger Woods? Jose Maria Olazabal? Scott Simpson? Mark O'Meara? Loren Roberts? Sergio Garcia? Jack Nicklaus?
The PGA Tour has become a power game:
Length never hurts, but if the short hitters can no longer compete, why does Loren Roberts own a share of the 72-hole scoring record at three PGA Tour events?
The PGA Tour is primarily a putting game. Always has been.
The best way to Tiger-proof a course is to make it shorter and tighter:
Hmmm, that sounds a lot like Valderrama, where Woods turned in what some still consider one of his greatest rounds as a pro.
Despite a triple bogey on the tricked-up 17th hole, Woods had a 68 in the final round to win the 1999 World Golf Championship in Spain. The average score that day was 75.1.
They call Ernie Els the "Big Easy" because of his easygoing personality:
"Maybe you should speak to my caddie," Els said. "I get quite angry."
Especially when people ask him about Tiger.

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