Tiger Woods' pursuit of the perfect golf season ended today in Miami, Fla.
Woods finished two strokes behind winner Geoff Ogilvy at the WGC-CA Championship, snapping Tiger's streak of five consecutive victories at PGA Tour events and giving him his first loss in the five events he has entered in 2008 (four on the PGA Tour, one on the European Tour).
Finally, the silly speculation about whether Woods could win every event he entered in the 2008 calendar year -- a feat no professional golfer has ever accomplished, and an achievement no one who competes regularly should ever consider a reasonable goal -- is behind us. Woods is human, just like the rest of us. Deal with it, dreamers.
He's not going to challenge, much less break, Byron Nelson's streak of 11 consecutive PGA Tour victories -- set in 1945 -- and he's not going to run the table in every tournament he enters in 2008. Even Nelson didn't come close to winning every event he entered when he won a tour-record 18 tournaments in 1945. There's too many capable competitors on the PGA Tour, and golf is way too fickle of a game, for anyone to consider a perfect season possible if he's going to enter 10 or more events. And that includes Woods.
What remains possible, however, is Tiger's real goal for 2008: a Grand Slam. Woods would love to become the first professional golfer to sweep all four majors in the same season. And, after posting 15-under at the Doral Resort in Miami, it is clear that Woods remains on top of his game. Ogilvy just played better, limiting himself to a lone bogey to go with his 18 birdies over 72 holes.
Woods, on the other hand, had four three-putts and some self-inflicted wounds that he hopes to avoid when he makes his next start at the Masters (April 10-13), in the season's first major. In golf, there's a razor-thin line between hoisting the trophy and posting a near-miss, as Woods discussed in a news conference after Monday's round. Some of it involves the L-word (luck), which Woods did not use but alluded to in his comments.
"People don't really understand you need to have something happen, a positive thing happen to you out there in order to win tournaments," Woods said. "I heard Geoff bladed one in the hole for par. That's what you need to have happen. Those are the things that have happend to me, and things weren't going that way this week."
Translation: Woods did not get the lucky bounce he needed at the right time to offset the mistakes he made on the course. But he's hopeful he can rectify that in Augusta, Ga.
Asked his early thoughts about the Masters, Woods said: "I think it's a great sign, what happened this week, to make that many mistakes and only be two back ... I didn't hit a bad shot all day (Monday), which was nice."
Translation II: Woods likes his chances in Augusta, regardless of Monday's finish in Miami.
Frankly, I do, too.
To be honest, it probably benefits Woods that he no longer has to deal with the foolish media hype about the possibility of a perfect season in 2008. The only taste of perfection that truly interests Woods is a 4-for-4 conversion rate in this year's majors.
And that goal remains on the table. Unlike the pipedream about a perfect season, the potential for a Grand Slam is very real. Just check back during Masters week for further proof.
_ Jimmy Burch