Not-so-great expectations: Tiger has fallen far from dominant days
Tiger Woods missed the cut by four shots at Congressional but said he "felt great."
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By Robert LusetichBETHESDA, Md.
There was a time when I thought Tiger Woods would win every tournament he played. Of course, that didn't happen.
It just felt like it did.
I remember going to Torrey Pines in 2000 to see if he could make it seven straight wins on the PGA Tour, but to everyone's surprise, an exhausted Woods was off his game ... and still finished second.
At the end of 2006 into January of the following year, he ran off eight wins in a row, if you count all the tournaments he played, and that wasn't even the stretch his estranged caddie, Steve Williams, considers Tiger's greatest.
From August 2007 until what remains his last major win -- the 2008 U.S. Open -- Woods played in 12 tournaments, winning nine and finishing second twice. In the other start, he had his worst outing: a fifth at Doral.
Six in a row, eight in a row, nine of 12, seven of 12 consecutive majors: Be sure, we'll never see that level of domination again.
What's important about this stretch, too, is that Woods was injured -- two separate injuries, to his left knee and leg -- from the start of 2008.
So much so that by the time he got to Torrey Pines -- a course that meant so much, sentimentally, to him -- for that U.S. Open, he was essentially playing on one good leg. He did not play and could not practice much in the two months between that Masters and U.S. Open.
Yet he would go on to win -- relying on his brilliant short game -- in a famous playoff against Rocco Mediate.
Last week, Woods came back from relatively minor back surgery to play the Quicken Loans National and missed the cut by four shots.
He expected to be rusty and exceeded his expectations.
And in exceeding them, he managed to lower expectations about what it is that Tiger Woods is about these days.
But six years since winning that last major, is he still?
He didn't sound like it while trying to turn last week's lemons into lemonade.
"I hate to say it, but I'm really encouraged by what happened this week," he replied when I asked if his confidence was hurt by such a poor comeback showing.
"I missed the cut by four shots. That's a lot. But the fact that what I was able to do physically and the speed I had and distance that I was hitting the golf ball again, I had not done that in a very long time. And to recover like I did overnight, still leery about it, how am I going to recover?
"Felt great today."
Felt great and shot a 4-over-par 75 -- Tiger's New Math.