On Sunday at the PGA Championship, everyone knew that Tiger Woods would not be winning his 15th major championship. Coming in off one of his best performances since he was snagging majors five years ago, Woods was the hot story and the obvious pick, but his four days at Oak Hill were a reminder that despite how he dominates the regular PGA Tour events all season, it's the majors that continue to flummox the No. 1 player in the world.
Woods shot a round of even-par 70 on Sunday, never giving up despite a bogey-double bogey finish to his front nine and the fact that when that driver comes out of the bag, our guess is as good as his to where it will end up.
Tiger shot a back nine 32, never giving up and grinding as hard as he could, especially over the last two holes when he couldn't be more out of position. Woods grabbed his back after a tee shot on the par-5 13th, but continued to go after tee shots and try to dig irons out of the rough, a testament to just how much this man cares about always shooting one shot better if possible.
But the real story here isn't his play at Oak Hill, but his play at all the majors. Last month I wrote a piece defending Tiger's play, pointing out that a T-6 at a major is a pretty incredible accomplishment considering he had has B game at Muirfield. This week isn't as defensible. Woods simply should have played better at the PGA, coming in off a big win at Firestone in which it seemed all parts of his game were clicking.
This isn't a swing problem or a club issue, it's all mental. The space between Tiger's ears that used to be so invincible seems to get rattled when it's major championship week, and no matter if the course is dry and fast or soft and wet or tree lined or wind-swept, it's the same story for the man with 14 majors.
Now comes a long offseason of refocusing on these four weeks each year that really matter to Tiger's legacy. He could win every PGA Tour event next season, an accomplishment that only Woods is capable of doing, and it wouldn't matter to most critics. It's the majors and the majors alone for Tiger, and for some reason his game and his mind aren't sharp enough to compete all four days at these events.
Tiger said before the week that even without a win at Oak Hill he would consider 2013 a successful season. I tend to agree with the man that has five PGA Tour wins this season, but seven months is a long time to wait and think about what exactly happens when he isn't just playing the field, but playing history.