Tiger isn't back, won't win a major, unless...

posted by Bruce Hooley - 

Tiger Woods couldn't intimidate eventual Open champion Francesco Molinari

Tiger Woods' fans need to stop with the unrealistic expectations of their man and the overly-accommodating allowances they're making for him.

He’s not back to anything close to resembling his dominant self, even though he held the lead on the back nine of the final round of the British Open and finished sixth.

The only, back, as it pertains to Tiger, is that he’ll be back at Firestone Country Club in Akron in two weeks for the final Bridgestone Invitational at that iconic venue.

Woods squeezed into the field by rising to No. 50 in the World Golf Rankings.

That’s about right.

That’s about where he is right now as a player, given that he’s limited by his own self doubt when it comes to pulling the driver.

You saw it Sunday, when Woods’ no-running-with-scissors game plan left him repeatedly behind eventual winner Francesco Molinari after teeing off.

Molinari is no bomber. He’s 53rd on the PGA Tour in driving distance. And while true that Carnoustie was firm and fast and not a heavy driver golf course, there were many times Woods left himself 220 yards-plus on approach shots because he was too afraid of the consequences of hitting driver.

Playing from 200 yards out and beyond is not a sustainable winning plan on a Tour where the top players fearlessly hit drives 340 yards or more.

Yes, I know, Woods won the 2000 Open Championship at St. Andrews while rarely hitting driver and avoiding the bunkers all week.

Two things were true then which are not true now:

First, Woods had an intimidation edge over every other player in the field.

Second, Woods was unshakable on putts inside 10 feet.

This time around, it was Molinari who proved the steadiest hand on the greens, repeatedly saving par from 4-8 feet.

And Molinari did that while playing with Woods, amid the hubbub that follows Tiger wherever he goes.

None of that shouting, cheering or anything else unnerved Molinari, nor did Woods being on the lead alone after 11 holes.

That’s an important distinction to note among players now, compared to 2000 when Woods dominated.

Everyone feared him then.

Rory, Spieth, DJ, Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka and other bombers don’t fear him now. Hey, a relative singles hitter like Francesco Molinari doesn’t even blink playing right next to Woods these days.

So until Tiger can pull driver under pressure, hit it straight, or at least know his misses will go right or left, not either one, he has no chance to win against an elite field.

PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

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