Okay, we’ve had a few days to absorb the results of the PGA Championship and the fact that Tiger didn’t actually win after leading the tournament for three days. Instead it was Y.E. Yang who ended up hoisting the Wanamaker trophy — and also his tour bag for that matter — on Sunday afternoon. But now that tournament is in the books, I’d like to pose a question — how big a deal is Tiger’s loss?
Well, let’s start with the obvious — it’s significant in that it was the first time in his pro career that Tiger lost after holding the 54-hole lead at a major, and after leading all three previous days for that matter. It seemed a foregone conclusion that Tiger would win, and as early as Friday evening many in golf media were declaring the tournament over, in light of how Tiger was playing. But that ended up not being the case.
Is it notable that Tiger did not do what we have seen him do so many times before, something spectacular down the stretch to salvage the win? Some have suggested that Tiger played conservatively on Sunday, not going for greens on par 5’s and certain pins on par 4’s. Some have even mentioned the C-word, wondering if he choked down the stretch on Sunday. I disagree with both of these assessments.
Here are my takeaways from Sunday’s outcome:
– First of all I think this loss might have stung Tiger a little more than he let on in his post-round press conference. He had a major win in his grasp and he let it get away. A year without a major is an unsuccessful one in his mind.
– Did he play conservatively? No. Did he choke? No way, not even close. Did he putt poorly on Sunday? Absolutely. He played well, executed his shot selections, but 33 putts in the final round of a major championship is not going to get it done.
– Will this loss stay with him at all? The short answer is no, but I do think Tiger will use this loss at the 2009 PGA as a personal motivator at all four majors in 2010. Tiger is the player with the greatest mental strength on tour, and he’s the best at turning negative situations into positive results.
– Was Tiger’s loss good for golf? Yes. It showed that Tiger is not completely invincible, and that will make tournaments more interesting to watch in the future. Y.E. Yang showed that golf is a global game, and there are great players worldwide ready to give Tiger (and the rest of the top PGA Tour Players) a run for their money.
The 2009 FedEx Cup events remain to be played in the next four weeks, and I think we’ll see Tiger at the top of the leader board at those events also. Will we see any lingering effects from his loss at the PGA? I think not, but that remains to be seen.
Let me know in the comments below if you think there are any other important takeaways from Tiger’s loss at the 2009 PGA.