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Monday, July 23, 2018

Tiger Brings the Ratings, Did He Choke, Final Group on the Clock

British Open earns highest TV rating since Tiger Woods' Grand Slam win at St. Andrews in 2000 | by Joel Beall for GolfDigest.com

Woods' return to contention during a major final round was a catalyst of curiosity throughout the world on Sunday, a sentiment reflected in the ratings. According to NBC Sports and Golf Channel, which televised the Open Championship, this year's tournament drew a 5.0 overnight figure. That's the highest number since the 2006 Open (won by Woods at Royal Liverpool, which also drew a 5.0), only topped by the 2000 Open at St. Andrews, where Woods won his first claret jug to complete the career Grand Slam.

For better or for worse, Tiger Woods still moves the needle.

Did Tiger Woods choke at The Open? | by Ben Alberstadt for GolfWRX.com

While it’s fair to say Woods didn’t play his best golf down the stretch, and perhaps he asked too much from shots from the rough at the 11th and 12th, the suggestion that he choked, failed to capitalize, or got nervy when the heat was on is off base.

That said, Woods’ legion of detractors will gleefully claim he choked. The Choke Lite take is that while Woods didn’t totally let things slip through his fingers, but the combination of opponents not self-destructing (most did though, Sunday, didn’t they?) and lacking the “step on their necks” gear he displayed so often earlier in his career did him in.

Mr. Alberstadt is correct. Golf is hard. Tiger Woods is much older trying to compete with a body that long ago failed him. But, as I stated from the first story above, Tiger Woods still moves the needle. Having Tiger back in competitive golf is one thing. Expecting him to play with the same skill and attitude he had at the height of his powers, against fields of players that have been taught to play the game with the same power and aggression he once had, on courses re-designed to limit those particular skills, is simply ridiculous.

Tiger Woods being back is one thing. To hold him to the standard of play and dominance he had 15-20 years ago is not fair in the least. Enjoy the ride of having him back but try being more realistic.

Spieth and Schauffele were put on the clock Sunday | by Rex Hoggard for GolfChannel.com

“I handled it OK, but looking back, you know, that was a turning point in the round,” said Spieth, who played Nos. 10 and 11 in even par and finished tied for ninth after a closing 76. “If you get 1 under on those two holes with a downwind par 5 left [No. 14], it's a different story.”

Being put on the clock is part of the rules and I understand how it would bother players trying to compete in one of the year's biggest events. That said, does anyone really think that the R&A would have had the nerve to penalize two players in the final group coming down the stretch of The Open? I'll believe it when I see it and probably scream about how stupid it is when it finally happens.

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