Some sports are physical. Other sports are mental. Is there a more mental sport than golf? (And since we're not classifying
chess as a sport, please work with us here and let's treat the above inquiry as a rhetorical question.)
That said, we pose another question: Could it be that Tiger Woods was mentally defeated before his golf game (specifically, the lack thereof) left him literally defeated and deflated at the PGA Championship – again.
And when you consider that Eldrick is 0-for-18 in Grand Slam events since winning the U.S. Open in 2008, we do mean "again" (and "again and again").
But instead of holding himself accountable, Tiger rationalizes and justifies his losing by pointing to his winning ways in non-majors.
"Overall I feel very pleased with where my game's at…" Tiger has told reporters more times than we can count (#NoMath), including this week at Oak Hill, despite failing to shoot in the 60s and ever becoming a factor on the leaderboard.
It used to be that Tiger was his own harshest critic. Not anymore. Win or lose – Tiger heaps praise on himself and his own game.
Like before the PGA Championship ever teed off, when Tiger was asked about the 2013 season:
"This year for me I think has been a great year so far for me," Tiger said on Tuesday. "Winning five times, and look at the quality of the events that I've won."
See, the Tiger Woods that used to win majors would never call a season without a major – "great." No way, no chance. Instead of teeing off, he'd be genuinely tee'd off.
Now, instead of pointing to his current failures, Tiger chooses to discuss his past successes. At the risk of psychoanalyzing the greatest golfer of our generation, how can Tiger win if he doesn't demand it of himself?
Opportunities to win are nowhere near actual wins and should not be mentioned in the same sentence. Alas, here's Tiger's take on this season to date:
"I've had certainly my share of chances to win. I've had my opportunities there on the back nine on probably half of those Sundays in the last five years where I've had a chance and just haven't won," Tiger said on Tuesday. "The key is to just keep giving myself chances."
And after finishing 14 shots off the lead in a tie for 40th, Tiger did it again – rationalized instead of scrutinized the state of his game by bringing up the pleasant past in place of the not-so-pleasant present.
"I put together four good rounds last week," he said. "Unfortunately, it wasn't this week. I didn't seem to hit it as good and didn't make many putts until the last few holes."
Let's put it this way: Until the new Tiger demands the former Tiger out of himself, he'll never be Tiger again.