Friday, April 12, 2013

This time, Tiger finds that luck rhymes with ...

Between the many Western Opens I saw and the majors I had the privilege of covering, I've probably witnessed 100 rounds by Tiger Woods in person. Add the hundreds more I've seen him play on TV, and I'll make this observation  about one of the three most dominant athletes I've ever covered:

He has been probably the luckiest athlete I've ever seen, too.

He and another golfer could hit the same shot on the same hole; Tiger's would hit a couple of rocks and bounce to within birdie range while the other guy's would go the other way and end up in the drink.

Please don't misunderstand what I'm saying. Tiger obviously has been incredible at his chosen pursuit. Of those I've covered, only Michael Jordan and Wayne Gretzky were as dominant in their fields. Nevertheless, the man also has been incredibly lucky.

In an interview just recently, Tiger was asked to name the one thing that has helped him more than any other throughout his career. "Luck," he said, matter-of-factly. And he wasn't being falsely modest.

So maybe it's fitting that the golf gods stole one back Friday at the Masters.

Tiger was cruising along pretty well, tied for the lead through 32 holes. He had 87 yards to the pin on No. 15 and struck his third shot perfectly. Too perfectly. The ball hit the bottom of the stick and ricocheted into the water. It was an amazingly bad break.

Had his ball missed the stick by an inch or two, it likely would have left him an easy birdie putt. Instead, he had to reload. Tiger being Tiger, he followed with a fantastic shot and saved bogey, but he lost his mojo and had to scramble the rest of the way. He bogeyed 18, also, three-putting the finishing hole at Augusta for the first time ever. He ended Round 2 at 3-under for the championship, three strokes behind Jason Day.

Asked afterward what he was feeling when he saw his ball deflect off the pin, Tiger said: "I was pissed."

As those of us very-un-Tiger-like -- and very unlucky -- weekend warriors will attest, the golf gods have a very wicked sense of humor.

It's not often they get to laugh at Tiger's expense.

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