I think most of us have acknowledged that Tiger’s golden era has come to an end (though it seems like quite a few inside the ropes firmly believe he’ll regain his form to some extent), but not many players would dare to say so publicly. Well, world No. 1 Luke Donald has fearlessly taken the leap and stated what many are thinking.
Donald, who has dealt with his own disconcerting doubts after returning from injury, very eloquently explained the damage done to Tiger’s mental state, according to a recent Q&A with PGATour.com’s Brian Wacker the UK’s Express (via ProGolfTalk):
“When you get that combination of injury plus the scandal that went on, mentally that’s quite scarring,” said Donald. “It’s a lot to take, even for someone with one of the strongest minds in golf. It’s a confidence sport.
“Even though Tiger’s only 35, there are a lot of young guys coming up – Rory McIlroy and Keegan Bradley and a bunch of others. I would assume a new era is upon us.”
Well said. In the pre-hydrant era, Tiger walked to the first hole with a two-shot lead before he even teed off. Now in his current form, well, he doesn’t exactly strike the fear of God into his competitors. You can feel it in the atmosphere that the aura has disappeared. I wasn’t inside the ropes pre-hydrant era, but I did attend a number of tournaments as a spectator in 2009 (and 1998, 2005, etc.), where he was obviously looked at in a different light.
With what we’ve seen this year — which has been weird but awesome to witness — it’s safe to say golf has been transitioning into a new generation.