On Thursday, Tiger Woods steps foot on a golf course he has dominated in the past decade like nothing we've ever seen. Since 1999, when Firestone Country Club started hosted a World Golf Championships event, Tiger has won seven times in 10 tries at this course. He has posted ridiculous scores, and beat out top players in playoffs. If there is a course that fits his eye, it's this one, but something is different this year; Tiger is coming in with no wins. After his mediocre play at St. Andrews, Jay Busbee and I debate the obvious question — will Tiger Woods win any PGA Tour event this year, or will this be the first time in his career he goes winless?
Bacon: It was supposed to be his year. His majors. His venues. His leap even further into the history books, Nike cleats a-landin'. Then his world came crumbling down last November, and everything, including his putting stroke and wedge game, came into question. At Augusta, where green dominates, Tiger struggled to find enough red. At Pebble he was far from 2000 form. At St. Andrews it just wasn't the same man maneuvering the famed links. The question isn't can Tiger win a major, it's can Tiger win any tournament? I don't think so. His game just doesn't seem to be consistent enough for 72 holes. While he may play a good round here or there, the PGA Tour has enough talent now where you need it for the entire week, and none of his parts are functioning the way they need to be.
Busbee: Yeah, I'd agree that nothing's going right for Tiger. Thing is, his 75 percent still trumps most pros' 110 percent. (No, don't try to do the math on that one.) I think his putting stroke is the key. He can salvage crappy driving rounds if he can work it with the flat stick. I think that he's not far from getting dialed back in on the green, and when he does, the wins will come. Slowly, and like a dripping faucet rather than the fire hose of the early 2000s, but they'll come. I predict one win this year. And you? When do you think his next win will come?
Bacon: See, that is where I think we are thinking too far in the past. Yes, Tiger's 75 percent used to be better than all the other pros in the game bringing their best, but it just doesn't seem to be the case that much anymore. He's played well in tournaments of late and not won (I'm looking at you, 2009 PGA Championship), and most of the guys just don't seem intimidated by him anymore, one of his strongest assets in the early part of his career. When do I think he will win next? I think something like the Buick next season, when he has a full offseason to work out the kinks both on and off the golf course. He wins later in the season a lot of the time, but it seems the courses that he really, really loves are all early events on the calender. That said, Firestone is a track that was basically molded for Mr. Woods.
Busbee: Ah, but couldn't we say that about Augusta or Pebble or St. Andrews or — wait a second, which side am I arguing here? Perhaps this is a vain hope, but I think that Tiger will be able to pull it together before the end of this year, if nothing else because he wants to avoid the humiliation of going through an entire year winless. He's got entry into just one round of the FedEx Cup playoffs at the moment, and while he shows that event the same regard as I show a trip to the dentist, he'll want to step in and slap everyone around just to remind them of who's their daddy. I think he's got one more year of that before nobody in the field flinches.
All right, your turn ... will Tiger win at any event in 2010? Give us your thoughts.