Monday, May 31, 2010

The Memorial: Can Tiger defend?

At the 2009 Memorial Tournament, Tiger Woods was firing on all cylinders on his way to winning the championship.

He shot a final round 65 which included birdies at the 17th and 18th holes to win by one shot.

"I don't even know how to describe it", said Michael Letzig, Woods playing partner on Sunday. "It was the best golf I'd ever seen."

The win gave him his fourth title at the Memorial and 67th career victory. One aspect of his game that really stood out that week was his driving, as he only missed five fairways the entire week.

Fast forward to 2010. Woods comes into this year's tournament with a lot of uncertainty. In his last two events, he missed the cut at Quail Hollow and withdrew from the Players Championship with a neck injury.

For his standards, his game has been a disaster and he's been unable to keep the ball in play. He's been very wild off the tee, missing both left and right. His short game, both chipping and putting, have been a little off, and his mental game is not nearly as sharp as it has been in the past.

This will be the first tournament Woods has played since parting ways with long-time swing coach Hank Haney in early May.

Either way, this will be a very interesting week for Woods and for the golf world to watch. On Wednesday, Woods will play in a skins game, which he also won last year, with Nicklaus, Mickelson, Mcllroy, and six other top players.

This will be a huge week for Woods for several reasons. First, to see if his game has improved at all from his past two outings, to see how his neck injury will react, to see if he can defend the title, and most importantly to gauge his game for the upcoming U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.

AP photo / Chris O'Meara