x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Tiger Woods needs to relearn the lessons of winning

There is a definite improvement in his game, but the longer the former world No 1 takes to win on comeback, the longer it will take for the golfing legend to regain his edge.

Tiger Woods finished joint-third at the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship.
Tiger Woods finished joint-third at the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship.

Tiger Woods never thought winning was easy; he just made it look that way.

But Woods no longer has an aura of invincibility. That will only return if he starts winning regularly, and it does not matter whether he beats Robert Rock or Rory McIlroy.

To suggest that his current "slump" is because he faces deeper competition than before is to ignore his dominance, and to show little respect for those who had to face him at his best.

But the more opportunities Woods lets slip away, such as in Abu Dhabi last week, the longer it will take to regain his edge, if he ever does.

Woods decided two years ago that he was willing to put in the time to revamp his swing, and that process appears to be coming along. Luke Donald and Robert Karlsson, who played with him in Abu Dhabi, were struck by the flight and shape of his shot.

That is what always set him apart – that, and his putting. Ultimately, putting will determine not only whether Woods wins again, but how often.

In the meantime, his result in Abu Dhabi can be perceived two ways. It was another chance to establish himself against the new world order, and he could not buy a birdie; or, in his last three tournaments, he has won and finished third twice.

He took the time to learn a new swing under a new coach. Now the question is, does he have to teach himself how to win again?

For that, he has only one teacher.