Tiger’s Slump Continues–Along With Number One Ranking

The juxtaposition of these stories on ESPN.com is amazing.

Tiger Retains No. 1 Ranking (AP)

What seemed like a meaningless birdie on the final hole of the NEC Invitational will ensure that Tiger Woods keeps his No. 1 world ranking at least one week longer. Woods remained atop the rankings for the 263rd consecutive week by finishing ahead of Vijay Singh at Firestone — Woods tied for second, Singh tied for 32nd.

A frustrated Tiger (ESPN)

Almost every time you looked up over the weekend, there was a Tiger Woods tee shot heading toward the rough. Analyzing Tiger’s swing, TV commentators wondered what was going through his mind. When the ball did end up close, putts didn’t drop. His body language screamed frustration. But when it was all over, Woods tied for second. This is what it has come to for Woods. Although only one player in a field of the world’s best managed to beat him over 72 holes, anything short of victory is failure. Tiger was below average off the tee and on the greens, but he still finished in second place. If this is Woods at his worst, then watch out when he figures it out.

Now he has gone for the longest stretch of his career without a stroke-play victory, a stunning fact considering he has won 40 PGA Tour events in his career. And yet nobody is questioning Vijay Singh or Ernie Els now that the new rankings are out. The two players poised to pounce on the No. 1 spot were nowhere in sight over the weekend, all but out of the tournament after the first round. Forgive them if there was a PGA hangover. Playing a prestigious tournament the week after a draining major championship is no easy task. Nobody would be surprised to see Els go away and hide for awhile after another disappointing setback at the PGA, his fourth consecutive run at a major that came up short. And Singh? He is only the hottest golfer in the world, the winner of five PGA Tour events and odds-on favorite to win PGA Tour player of the year honors. An off week could be expected.

But let’s be honest: Woods doesn’t get the same kind of reprieve. If he mailed it in over the weekend, the comments would be stern. But Woods didn’t. He never does.

Indeed. It’s quite remarkable, really.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.