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Mitch Evans: The Eye of the Tiger Is Still Missing

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There’s no hiding it, there’s no denying it, there’s no explaining it.

Five years have passed since Tiger Woods last won a Grand Slam event, a half-decade of staying stuck on 14 for his career after beating Rocco Mediate on one leg in a 19-hole playoff at the 2008 US Open.

Tiger’s triumph at Torrey Pines is of little consequence today. What IS significant — to Woods and the game of golf — is that the drought has gone on as long as it has.

Yes, through the thick and thin of injuries, swing changes, and that little marital issue that derailed his career for more than three years, Tiger Woods is once again back on top of the world rankings. He already has four victories this year, while no other golfer on the PGA Tour has notched more than two.

But Tiger will never truly be back until he records another Grand Slam victory on his résumé, and thus re-energizes the discussion of whether or not he can eventually reach the golden number of 18 that Jack Nicklaus established with his final major triumph at Augusta National in 1986.

You know it, I know it, and most importantly, Eldrick Woods knows it.

What’s made the half-decade long gap even more mindboggling is that Tiger’s put himself in position to win another major, several times at The Masters, and last year at both The Open and The PGA Championship. Inexplicably, he’s been unable to close the deal. More than anything, the slump seems to be a mental block that the once unflappable and steely resolute Woods can’t overcome.

A man who once upon a time ago would reside in the heads of his rivals on a regular basis, would make them shrivel to the point of complete capitulation by the very sight of his name on the leaderboard, and would go for the jugular at every turn, now seems to have lost that killer instinct and become nothing more than a shrinking violet himself when Slams are on the line.

And so, if Tiger’s majors dry spell is a conundrum, trying to figure out the reason for it entering the 113th National Championship at Merion Country Club is even more puzzling, indeed.

That’s why we in the press won’t try to hide it, Tiger can’t deny it, and no one can explain it.

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