An 'open' era of majors goes back to when Tiger Woods stopped winning them

  • Article by: DOUG FERGUSON , AP Golf Writer
  • Updated: July 16, 2013 - 1:15 PM

GULLANE, Scotland — British Open champions at Muirfield are more likely to be found on a ballot for the Hall of Fame than the bottom of a betting sheet. It has never been known as a haven for long shots, which would seem to bode well for someone like Tiger Woods.

Even so, Woods struggled to find the right definition of an "outsider" when asked Tuesday about the trend of high-caliber winners at Muirfield. Because if an "outsider" is someone who had never won a major, then all bets are off.

"You probably can't say that given the fact that over the past, what, five years or so ... that we've had first-time winners at virtually every single major," Woods said. "The fields are so deep now and the margin between the first player and the last player in the field is not that big anymore. It's very small."

Eighteen players have won the last 20 majors, the most diverse collection of major champions in some 25 years. Fourteen of them had never won a major.

Perhaps it was more than just a coincidence when Woods dated this trend to the last five years.

Because that's when he stopped winning them.

"There's certainly a connection between so many different winners and Tiger not winning one," Graeme McDowell said. "Because we all know when he gets in the mood, he likes to win a few. I think in the period when Tiger kind of went missing for a couple of years there, it gave a lot of players a chance to step up to the plate and show how healthy the game of golf is, get their confidence up and win the big ones and really get a bit of belief in themselves.

"But I think Tiger has been responsible for raising the bar," he said. "I think he certainly has set the standard for how good guys can be."

Times sure have changed since the British Open last came to this links course along the Firth of Forth. In 2002, the question was whether Woods was going to win all four majors in a single year. Eleven years later, not a major goes by without him being asked when he's going to win one — any of them — again.

The drought is at 16 majors, stretched over five years, since Woods hobbled and winced his way to a playoff win at Torrey Pines in the 2008 U.S. Open for his 14th career major, leaving him four short of the standard set by Jack Nicklaus.

Woods gets defensive when asked about his confidence. Surely it would seem to have been easier when he was winning them with regularity. All he can do is point to his four PGA Tour wins this year, his No. 1 ranking fully restored, the way his named his bandied about as a favorite at every Grand Slam event.

But there are no answers for why he can win just about anywhere except in the majors.

"I think it's just a shot here and there," he said. "It's making a key up-and-down here, or getting a good bounce, capitalizing on an opportunity here and there."

He pointed to the par-5 15th hole at Augusta National in the second round of the Masters this year, when he was poised to take the lead until his wedge struck the flag and caromed back off the green and into the water. It led to a bogey, which became a triple-bogey 8 when it was discovered he took an illegal drop. He never seriously challenged the rest of the week.

"It's not much," Woods said. "It could happen on the first day. It could happen on the last day. But it's turning that tide and getting the momentum at the right time or capitalizing on an opportunity. That's what you have to do to win major championships."

One thing that no longer concerns him, at least going into the opening round Thursday, is his health.

Woods revealed during the U.S. Open that he had a left elbow injury that was aggravated by hitting out of the thick rough at Merion. Doctors told him it was an elbow strain and recommended rest, forcing him to miss his title defense at Congressional and likely another start at The Greenbrier.

He has not competed since the U.S. Open, and while he says "everything is good to go," he has played only nine holes each day.

"It's one of the good things of taking the time off to let it heal and get the treatment and therapy on it," he said. "The main reason was that coming over here the ground is going to be hard, obviously. And I'm going to need that elbow to be good. And just in case the rough was ... well, reports were it was going to be high and it was going to be lush. I needed to have this thing set and healed."

It's not that reports were exaggerated.

Ernie Els, the defending British Open champion and the last Open winner at Muirfield, returned to the course last month after winning in Germany.

"It was like this," Els said, tapping the dark green cooler on the 13th tee. "And there was a bit of rain that day, so it was very green. The rough was thick. You could just hack it out. And then I get here two weeks later, and it's this."

He looked across a course that was a blend of yellow, wispy grass framing the fairways that were turning brown by the day. Most players prefer a brown links course because it's running fast. Els didn't buy that, not at Muirfield.

"A little more luck involved," he said.

Muirfield doesn't have the severity of humps and hollows in the fairway. It looks like links golf, not a trip to the moon. But the drier the condition, the faster the ball runs along the ground, and the harder it is to control where it stops.

Maybe that's what Woods needs — a little luck.

"I've had a pretty good year so far — won four times," Woods said, again on the defensive. "Even though I haven't won a major championship in five years, I've been there in a bunch of them where I've had chances. I just need to keep putting myself there, and eventually I'll get some."

Since returning from the crisis in his personal life that led to divorce, Woods has had five finishes in the top four at the 12 majors he has played. But he still hasn't seriously contended. The closest he has been to the winning score was three shots, at the 2010 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.

McDowell won that U.S. Open. Adam Scott won the Masters this year. Justin Rose won the U.S. Open. The closest anyone has been to dominance in the majors was Rory McIlroy, who won two of them by eight shots, though his game is now in a slump.

That used to be Woods.

"You could never get 18 players win 20 majors when there's a guy winning 14 majors in 12 years," Geoff Ogilvy said. "There was definitely a period when he was winning them all and there were less people who thought they could."

And now?

"There are more players who think they can win," Ogilvy said. "And every time one of those players wins one, it gives confidence to others that they can."

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Detroit 95 FINAL
Washington 99
Atlanta 93 FINAL
Miami 91
Toronto 98 FINAL
New York 103
Memphis 101 FINAL
Minnesota 97
Brooklyn 104 FINAL
Dallas 94
Milwaukee 75 FINAL
Utah 82
San Antonio 101 FINAL
Phoenix 74
Buffalo 3 FINAL
Florida 5
Detroit 4 FINAL
Nashville 3
Carolina 5 FINAL
NY Islanders 3
New Jersey 2 FINAL
Columbus 0
Arizona 1 FINAL
Boston 4
Toronto 0 FINAL
Montreal 4
NY Rangers 2 FINAL
Philadelphia 4
Minnesota 3 FINAL
Colorado 1
St. Louis 2 FINAL
Edmonton 1
Ottawa 4 FINAL
San Jose 2
Kennesaw St 75 FINAL
Lipscomb 94
Navy 57 FINAL
Loyola-Maryland 47
Bucknell 71 FINAL
American Univ 69
NC State 63 FINAL
Boston College 79
East Carolina 71 FINAL
UCF 66
Georgia Tech 63 FINAL
Clemson 70
Lehigh 55 FINAL
Colgate 61
Louisville 81 FINAL
Florida State 59
Missouri 44 FINAL
Georgia 68
Army 64 FINAL
Lafayette 74
Michigan 56 FINAL
Maryland 66
Georgetown 70 FINAL
St Johns 81
Rhode Island 59 FINAL
La Salle 56
Western Carolina 67 FINAL
Citadel 54
Nebraska Omaha 87 FINAL
IUPUI 80
Maine 56 FINAL
New Hampshire 65
Samford 80 FINAL
Va Military 69
Presbyterian 53 FINAL
Winthrop 80
Utah State 74 FINAL
Air Force 60
Vermont 73 FINAL
Albany 79
UMBC 69 FINAL
Binghamton 76
Indiana State 60 FINAL
Bradley 52
Butler 67 FINAL
DePaul 53
Illinois State 69 FINAL
Evansville 67
Wright State 46 FINAL
Ill-Chicago 61
Fla Gulf Coast 67 FINAL
Jacksonville 75
Ole Miss 63 FINAL
LSU 73
North Carolina 73 FINAL
Miami-Florida 64
Wagner 64 FINAL
Mount St Marys 74
TCU 60 FINAL
Oklahoma 67
Delaware 65 FINAL
Towson 60
Cincinnati 63 FINAL
Tulane 47
Dayton 59 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 55
Northern Iowa 60 FINAL
Wichita State 74
Drexel 80 FINAL
William & Mary 66
Oakland 63 FINAL
Green Bay 83
Villanova 78 FINAL
Xavier 66
Campbell 65 FINAL
Longwood 70
Sarah Lawrence 55 FINAL
NJIT 90
Middle Tennessee 95 FINAL
UAB 100
UNC-Asheville 95 FINAL
Liberty 77
Southern Utah 71 FINAL
North Dakota 65
Utah Valley U 44 FINAL
Chicago State 65
ULM 43 FINAL
Appalachian St 66
Bowling Green 62 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 57
Long Island 73 FINAL
Sacred Heart 84
West Virginia 66 FINAL
Baylor 78
Holy Cross 77 FINAL
Boston Univ 70
MD-Eastern Shore 69 FINAL
Delaware State 65
Wofford 62 FINAL
Furman 60
Montana State 73 FINAL
Idaho 80
Hofstra 73 FINAL
James Madison 82
Iowa State 69 FINAL
Kansas State 70
Arkansas 67 FINAL
Kentucky 84
Missouri State 51 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 65
Fordham 74 FINAL
Massachusetts 82
Nicholls 78 FINAL
McNeese State 83
East Tenn St 64 FINAL
Mercer 69
Coppin State 88 FINAL
Morgan State 77
San Diego 78 FINAL
Portland 66
Gardner-Webb 62 FINAL
Radford 72
St Francis-PA 70 FINAL
Robert Morris 71
Duquesne 75 FINAL
St Bonaventure 92
Creighton 66 FINAL
Seton Hall 67
Oklahoma State 62 FINAL
Texas Tech 63
Alabama 66 FINAL
Vanderbilt 73
Virginia Tech 57 FINAL
Virginia 69
Bethune-Cookman 49 FINAL
NC Central 72
St Francis-NY 51 FINAL
Bryant 61
Drake 57 FINAL
Southern Ill 63
High Point 93 FINAL
Char Southern 97
Central Conn St 66 FINAL
Fair-Dickinson 73
Eastern Mich 72 FINAL
Western Mich 80
Texas 64 FINAL
Kansas 69
Chattanooga 61 FINAL
UNC Greensboro 58
SE Louisiana 72 FINAL
Central Arkansas 74
South Dakota St 64 FINAL
South Dakota 80
Montana 77 FINAL
Eastern Wash 76
Georgia State 75 FINAL
Troy 64
Old Dominion 70 FINAL
North Texas 57
Arkansas State 60 FINAL
Texas State 70
Texas Southern 58 FINAL
Alabama State 49
Tennessee St 62 FINAL
Belmont 88
Princeton 80 FINAL
Brown 62
Dartmouth 56 FINAL
Cornell 45
Tennessee 49 FINAL
Florida 66
Jacksonville St 55 FINAL
Morehead State 87
San Jose St 51 FINAL
Nevada 62
Florida A&M 65 FINAL
NC A&T 77
Iowa 81 FINAL
Penn State 77
Loyola Marymount 49 FINAL
Pepperdine 65
Miss State 68 FINAL
South Carolina 81
Savannah State 68 FINAL
SC State 57
Miss Valley St 49 FINAL
Jackson State 73
Alcorn State 63 FINAL
Southern U 71
Harvard 80 FINAL
Columbia 70
George Washington 66 FINAL
Davidson 77
Syracuse 54 FINAL
Duke 73
Tenn Tech 67 FINAL
Eastern Ky 70
UNC-Wilmington 55 FINAL
Elon 74
Stony Brook 74 FINAL
Hartford 59
Northwestern 60 FINAL
Illinois 86
Western Ill 64 FINAL
IUPU-Ft Wayne 84
Buffalo 71 FINAL
Kent State 65
Incarnate Word 66 FINAL
Lamar 79
Cal State Fullerton 47 FINAL
Long Beach State 70
TX-San Antonio 66 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 76
Fla Atlantic 63 FINAL
Marshall 79
Richmond 63 FINAL
Saint Josephs 57
George Mason 78 FINAL
Saint Louis 50
Austin Peay 65 FINAL
SE Missouri St 89
Ball State 59 FINAL
Toledo 70
Penn 50 FINAL
Yale 55
Milwaukee 82 FINAL
Youngstown St 74
Stetson 71 FINAL
North Florida 86
USC Upstate 65 FINAL
Northern Ky 84
Grand Canyon 65 FINAL
UMKC 70
Abilene Christian 55 FINAL
New Orleans 75
Murray State 73 FINAL
UT Martin 67
Hampton 68 FINAL
Howard 67
Prairie View 75 FINAL
Alabama A&M 72
Northeastern 65 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 56
Tulsa 74 FINAL
Memphis 72
Wyoming 57 FINAL
UNLV 69
Central Mich 55 FINAL
Northern Ill 73
Denver 57 FINAL
Oral Roberts 60
Charlotte 77 FINAL
Rice 76
Boise State 56 FINAL
San Diego St 46
St Marys-CA 70 FINAL
Santa Clara 71
Texas-El Paso 60 FINAL
Southern Miss 63
New Mexico St 0 Postponed
TX-Pan American 0
FIU 61 FINAL
Western Ky 77
Stephen F Austin 102 FINAL
Houston Baptist 87
Grambling St 57 FINAL
Ark-Pine Bluff 66
Ga Southern 58 FINAL
Louisiana 68
Auburn 55 FINAL
Texas A&M 80
Ark-Little Rock 73 FINAL
Texas-Arlington 82
Sam Houston St 59 FINAL
TX A&M-CC 61
Arizona 63 FINAL
Utah 57
Northern Ariz 74 FINAL
Northern Colorado 76
UC Davis 66 FINAL
Cal Poly 56
New Mexico 55 FINAL
Fresno State 59
BYU 73 FINAL
Gonzaga 70
Pacific 55 FINAL
San Francisco 65
Idaho State 57 FINAL
Weber State 61
Sacramento St 73 FINAL
Portland State 60
UC Riverside 76 FINAL
CS-Northridge 83
Washington 55 FINAL
USC 70
CS-Bakersfield 43 FINAL
Seattle 53
UC Irvine 51 FINAL
UC Santa Barbara 54
Michigan 60 FINAL
Illinois 72
Lipscomb 57 FINAL
Kennesaw St 75
North Florida 45 FINAL
Stetson 77
Samford 65 FINAL
Mercer 70
Liberty 64 FINAL
Campbell 57
North Texas 48 FINAL
Old Dominion 70
St Francis-NY 62 FINAL
Bryant 52
St Francis-PA 58 FINAL
Robert Morris 73
Long Island 71 FINAL
Sacred Heart 78
Sam Houston St 52 FINAL
TX A&M-CC 60
Kent State 59 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 66
ULM 61 FINAL
Appalachian St 80
Boston U 62 FINAL
Holy Cross 76
Nicholls 73 FINAL
McNeese State 68
Akron 80 FINAL
Buffalo 87
Ball State 50 FINAL
Western Mich 51
MD-Eastern Shore 68 FINAL
Delaware State 61
Northern Ill 52 FINAL
Eastern Michigan 60
Bowling Green 47 FINAL
Ohio U 67
Central Michigan 53 FINAL
Toledo 62
Coppin State 55 FINAL
Morgan State 73
Bethune-Cookman 50 FINAL
NC Central 33
Central Conn St 77 FINAL
Fairleigh Dickinson 56
Memphis 24 FINAL
(1) Connecticut 87
Georgia Tech 67 FINAL
Wake Forest 60
East Carolina 69 FINAL
Temple 79
Fairfield 72 FINAL
Manhattan 54
Niagara 53 FINAL
Iona 81
Marist 65 FINAL
Rider 56
Michigan State 61 FINAL
Purdue 56
Northern Ky 83 FINAL
USC Upstate 60
East Tenn St 42 FINAL
(18) Chattanooga 64
Furman 70 FINAL
Wofford 53
Longwood 58 FINAL
Charleston Southern 51
UNC-Asheville 87 FINAL
Coastal Carolina 53
Winthrop 60 FINAL
Presbyterian 53
Western Ill 75 FINAL
South Dakota 78
Detroit 78 FINAL
Valparaiso 57
Cleveland State 69 FINAL
Milwaukee 76
Georgia State 75 FINAL
Troy 88
Lafayette 41 FINAL
Army 57
Arkansas State 74 FINAL
Texas State 83
IUPUI 53 FINAL
South Dakota St 82
Tennessee St 70 FINAL
Belmont 53
Eastern Illinois 55 FINAL
SIU-Edwardsville 72
Jacksonville St 83 FINAL
Morehead St 78
Kansas State 47 FINAL
TCU 67
Cincinnati 56 FINAL
SMU 46
SE Louisiana 57 FINAL
Central Arkansas 73
Denver 40 FINAL
Nebraska Omaha 53
Tulane 52 FINAL
Tulsa 54
IUPU-Ft Wayne 56 FINAL
Oral Roberts 84
Air Force 50 FINAL
Utah State 84
San Diego State 58 FINAL
Boise State 62
Fresno State 60 FINAL
New Mexico 63
Florida A&M 42 FINAL
NC A&T 78
Gonzaga 73 FINAL
BYU 66
South Florida 99 FINAL
UCF 71
UCLA 61 FINAL
Washington 74
(3) Baylor 71 FINAL
Iowa State 76
Tenn Tech 84 FINAL
Eastern Kentucky 71
UMKC 42 FINAL
Grand Canyon 56
Seattle 61 FINAL
CS-Bakersfield 73
Texas Southern 64 FINAL
Alabama State 52
Santa Clara 71 FINAL
St Marys-CA 74
UNLV 68 FINAL
Wyoming 99
Savannah State 55 FINAL
SC State 52
Alcorn State 55 FINAL
Southern U 76
Miss Valley St 54 FINAL
Jackson State 58
Bucknell 55 FINAL
American Univ 65
Radford 63 FINAL
High Point 83
Eastern Washington 59 FINAL
Montana 69
Idaho 62 FINAL
Montana State 71
Weber State 56 FINAL
Idaho State 63
Green Bay 73 FINAL
Youngstown St 27
Oakland 54 FINAL
Illinois-Chicago 64
Austin Peay 72 FINAL
SE Missouri St 67
Wagner 65 FINAL
Mount St Marys 68
Portland 72 FINAL
San Diego 80
Nevada 72 FINAL
San Jose St 81
Stephen F Austin 69 FINAL
Houston Baptist 57
Incarnate Word 64 FINAL
Lamar 81
Abilene Christian 50 FINAL
New Orleans 71
Pepperdine 57 FINAL
Loyola Marymount 74
San Francisco 91 FINAL
Pacific 79
Prairie View 81 FINAL
Alabama A&M 71
Hampton 106 FINAL
Howard 57
Chicago State 53 FINAL
Utah Valley U 68
Cal Poly 75 FINAL
Cal-Irvine 84
UC Santa Barbara 57 FINAL
UC Davis 52
Marshall 73 FINAL
Florida Atlantic 83
Portland State 77 FINAL
Sacramento St 123
Western Ky 88 FINAL
FIU 47
UAB 62 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 57
Georgia Southern 35 FINAL
Louisiana 62
Grambling 59 FINAL
Ark-Pine Bluff 45
Ark-Little Rock 48 FINAL
TX-Arlington 38
Cornell 33 FINAL
Dartmouth 54
Columbia 81 FINAL
Harvard 82
Brown 67 FINAL
(14) Princeton 79
USC 62 FINAL
Washington St 68
(24) California 55 FINAL
(7) Oregon State 73
Yale 33 FINAL
Penn 59
Murray State 74 FINAL
UT Martin 87
Loyola-Maryland 50 FINAL
Navy 59
Jacksonville 47 FINAL
(21) Fla Gulf Coast 78
Long Beach St 69 FINAL
Cal State Fullerton 62
Rice 59 FINAL
Charlotte 78
Colgate 61 FINAL
Lehigh 60
CS-Northridge 88 FINAL
UC-Riverside 70
Kansas 65 FINAL
Oklahoma 58
Oklahoma St 47 FINAL
Texas Tech 44
TX-Pan American 60 FINAL
New Mexico St 80
North Dakota 66 FINAL
Southern Utah 73
Northern Colorado 88 FINAL
Northern Ariz 67
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close