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TOUR Insider: What's wrong with Woods?

PGATOUR.com

NORTON, Mass. -- It's the single question I get asked most often this year while covering the PGA TOUR.

What's wrong with Tiger?

My answer is always the same: Not much.

There seems to be a general misconception that Tiger Woods is struggling this year. That is simply not true. He has tournaments and rounds of frustration but Woods is having a very good year. In fact, Woods might be The Player of the Year on the PGA TOUR.

Consider the stats.

He has won three tournaments, leads the TOUR with almost $5 million in earnings and is No. 1 in scoring average at 69.02. He ranks third in the world and could become No. 1 before the end of the year.

You think Tiger can no longer drive the golf ball? He is fifth on TOUR in total driving. His short game is bad? Woods is sixth in scrambling. Can no longer hit his irons close? Tiger leads the TOUR in proximity to the cup on approaches outside 200 yards and from the 175-200 yard distance.

Woods is having a season most players would consider a career year. In fact, many PGA TOUR players would gladly accept his 2012 numbers for their entire careers.

So why is there a perception he is struggling? It's because Woods has not won a major championship and has posted some inconsistent rounds on the weekend.

Woods is ranked third on TOUR in scoring average before the cut with a stroke average of 69.65. In the third round he slips to 59th at 70.62 and in the final round Woods falls to 73rd with a stroke average of 70.83.

Why that disparity?

There are a number of theories. Woods is still undergoing a swing change and perhaps questions his mechanics under the pressure of the weekend.

FedExCup standings
The PGA TOUR enters the second week of the FedExCup Playoffs at the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston. The field will then be cut to the top 70 players in the standings for next week's BMW Championship. Here are the top five players this week:
1Nick Watney
2Brandt Snedeker
3Tiger Woods
4Rory McIlroy
5Zach Johnson

His scoring irons have been off all year where Woods is just 101st on TOUR on approaches between 50-125 yards.

There are also putting issues. Woods is ranked 41st in Strokes Gained-Putting and falls to 145th making just 27 percent of his putts from 10 to 15 feet.

However, Woods is doing far more right than wrong with his golf game.

Public perception of Woods is clouded by media scrutiny. When other players struggle they are seldom covered, while television and PGA TOUR Radio records every one of Woods' shots in every round.

Woods is covered to excess because the public demands it. He is the single most polarizing figure on the PGA TOUR and there is something about humane nature in which we tend to remember someone's struggles more than their accomplishments.

Woods has suffered this year from a swing change and the aging process. Woods is not the same player he was 10 years ago. Neither is Albert Pujols nor Peyton Manning. However, all three can still be considered at the top of their sports and Woods has plenty of gas left in the tank to be dominant into his 40s.

I think it's correct to say the gap between Woods and other players on the PGA TOUR has narrowed in the last five years but Woods is still very capable of winning majors and dominance.

In fact, I think Tiger is not just capable of winning more majors, I think it's probable.

Just consider the stats.

Observations:

Go low:It took a score of 10 under to win The Barclays last week but you might have to double that total at TPC Boston. It has always been a birdie fest. Only a windy weekend last year prevented players from averaging scores in the 60s.

Final hole:There have been changes to the course, most notably at the 18th where the green is suddenly much smaller. Players have averaged almost a half shot under par on the hole over the past nine years, so the putting surface was reduced and replaced with chipping areas. Players are still going to reach the 528-yard hole in two, but long irons will no longer hold the more intimate putting surface.

Federal Hill:Players and media will tell you it's easier to stay in Providence than Boston. The commute to TPC Boston is shorter and there is less traffic but there is also better food. Federal Hill is an area of Providence that specializes in Italian cooking. I reserve at least one night for an Italian feast followed by a visit to a pastry shop for cannoli to be enjoyed while watching Bocce ball in a nearby park. Please don't tell Mrs. Albers -- who has been led to believe I'm constantly working.

Winner, winner:TPC Boston gives up low scores because the fairways are generous. Long hitters have an advantage here and Dustin Johnson is as long as they come. He finished third in his title defense at The Barclays and has played well here in the past, including a fourth-place finish in 2009. I say, Johnson wins a spot on the Ryder Cup team with a win at Deutsche Bank.

Fred Albers is a course reporter for SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio. For more information on SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio,click here.

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