In the NBA, you hear the term “Load Management” quite a bit. It’s when teams strategically sit out their most important player(s) based on the schedule.
Let’s just say, we should expect Tiger Woods to adopt this philosophy for the rest of his career.
We haven’t seen Tiger Woods on the golf course since he finished 21st at the US Open. That means when he tees off Thursday morning at Royal Portrush, it will be the first competitive tee shot he’s hit in a month.
“I want to play here as long as I possibly can. And you have to understand, if I play a lot, I won’t be out here that long,” Woods said (ESPN.com). We are all used to the uber-competitive Woods but he seems to be resigned to the fact that, he will never return to that level.
Older fans have seen this before in another sport… boxing. It looks like Woods will be implementing a strategy similar to Sugar Ray Leonard. Later in Leonard’s career, he rested up and strategically planned when to fight his bigger fights. This, more than anything else, led to his controversial victory over Marvin Hagler. In Woods’ case, we saw a glimpse of that in his victory at The Masters.
The trouble is how does he plan the rest of his schedule? Unlike boxing where two fights a year is standard, Woods needs to navigate an entire PGA wrap-around schedule. That has proven to be challenging when trying to manage his and along with being tournament ready. “[My game’s] not quite as sharp as I’d like to have it right now,” Woods said. “My touch around the greens is right where I need to have it but I still need to get the ball – the shape of the golf ball a little bit better than I am right now (The Open).
His preparation and readiness has come into question. Padraig Harrington said “I personally think if you’re serious about winning the Open you’ve got to be playing tournament golf at least before it” (Golf.com). Woods’ preparation as come in the form of two practice rounds plus 7 holes.
Is that going to be enough? Probably not. Woods has just as good of a chance to miss the cut as he is to finish in the top 15. For those who grew up with Woods, that’s unfathomable. But that’s where we are with the new Tiger Woods… it’s just hard for some to get used to.
Where: Royal Portrush
When: Jul 18 – Jul 21
Defending Champion: Francesco Molinari
Making The Cut Prediction: John Rahm