Johnny Miller won’t give up on Tiger Woods, even if Colin Montgomerie has
Johnny Miller likes Tiger’s chances of returning to form, while Colin Montgomerie claims even Woods’ 14-time major championship-level of play would not be good enough to compete with Rory McIlroy.
Johnny Miller begs to differ with Colin Montgomerie when it comes to — who else? — Tiger Woods.
Miller believes Woods, thanks to his new/old swing, is poised to contend again, while Montgomerie subscribes to the popular theory that Tiger — circa 2000 as well as 2014 — is completely outmatched by the world No. 1, Rory McIlroy.
“I’m not giving up on Tiger. Don’t write him off just yet,” Miller said after he and son Andy finished tied for 15th at the weekend’s PNC Father/Son Challenge, according to Golfweek’s Adam Schupak. “I think he has a legitimate chance.”
Witnessing what he called the best driver swing Woods has put into play “since 2001,” Miller liked what the 14-time major champion showed off the tee at his Hero World Challenge earlier this month. “Getting off the ball wider,” as he did “when he was a kid” and then nailing it with “a very athletic move” portended positive results for Tiger, at least physically.
Mentally, Woods needs a win, any win, to convince himself and his opponents he’s a legitimate challenger.
“I think now confidence-wise, psyche-wise, he’s just an average guy on tour. He has to build it back up. He needs a win – I don’t care if it is the Hershey Bar Open – to get his confidence level up,” Miller said. “I think he still has some gas left in the tank. The young players have sort of written him off. All the great champions have one great fight left in them. I think there’s a good chance he can really get it going again but he needs some good finishes first.”
All well and good, but even if he were to work himself back into title-winning form, it would not be nearly enough to compete with McIlroy, according to Montgomerie.
Woods, who won five times on the PGA Tour in 2013, struggled with a bad back and an errant tee shot that led, this year, to his worst season as a professional. After a nearly four-month layoff to rehab his surgically repaired back, he returned to the World Challenge and finished in a tie for last.
In the meantime, McIlroy has cemented his status as the world’s top player by winning the last two majors, the British Open and PGA Championship. Should he capture the Masters in April for his fifth major and third in a row, McIlroy would achieve a personal grand slam and be in line to equal Woods’ “Tiger Slam” — four straight major victories over the 2000-2001 calendar years.
Montgomerie, speaking with the Daily Mail, conceded that Woods was likely to “come back into the frame” at Augusta, but that returning to his previous level of play was not enough to grapple with McIlroy.
“Is he going to be able to get back, not just to the levels he was but better than that?” Montgomerie asked. “Because that’s where Rory McIlroy’s taken the standard of golf: to one level beyond where Tiger was.”
The sky’s the limit for Rory, whom Monty tipped to win an unprecedented six consecutive majors.
“Can he win all four in a year? That’s another question on people’s lips within our game,” Montgomerie averred. “Can he win all four in a year, never mind two? That means six in a row. Wow, that’ll be something.”