Wait till ... 2012!
Tiger Woods chokes in Chevron, setting himself back another year
Tiger Woods was Dustin Johnson at Pebble Beach, Phil Mickelson at Winged Foot, Greg Norman at the 1996 Masters. Oh sure, the stakes in the Chevron World Challenge weren't in the same universe as any of those.
But that doesn't change the truth: Tiger Woods choked. The greatest golfer ever (with increasing apologies to Jack Nicklaus) turned what should have been his lone victory of 2010 into just another exhibit in his fall by failing to do what he always does. Tiger couldn't protect a four-shot lead with 18 holes to go, couldn't finish steady, couldn't stuff out another challenger.
The historic aspect of it (this is the first time Woods hasn't ended up winning when he went into a final round with at least a three-shot lead) shouldn't haunt Tiger as much as the way this Sunday played out. On a day when low numbers were to be had everywhere (everyone else in the Top 5 shot three under or better), on a Sherwood Country Club course that's basically designed for him, facing a setup that reminded no one of a tough PGA Tournament (let alone a major), Woods couldn't post anything better than a 73.
Graeme McDowell's back-to-back killer putts on 18 were great, but if Woods played halfway decent, kept halfway cool, it never would have come to that.
A understandably gleeful McDowell noted how he essentially beat Tiger "in his own backyard." And he's right. Woods held every advantage in this tournament — and still found a way to lose.
He bogeyed two of the first three holes, opening up the door for McDowell long before any anxiety could set in about having to chase the man in Sunday red. He had one of those blowup holes that often perplex Mickelson when he butchered the 13th in a light rain. Woods can try to smile for the cameras and talk about being happy about the "fight" he showed all he wants.
In truth, he rolled over long before he and McDowell ever reached 18.
I say it's still hard to imagine Tiger not breaking Nicklaus' majors record one day. He'll eventually recover and find enough game to capture at least five more majors. But this choke is no small obstacle.
Forget 2010. Woods has already put his 2011 in dire straits. That's how crippling a collapse can be.
Tiger's joined another crowd he never wanted to be in.