This was not quite the “ageing isn’t fun” admission delivered by Tiger Woods in mid-July. At that juncture, the most famous golfer of a generation admitted he was “just trying to hold on” to the remnants of an extraordinary career. Nonetheless, a player who regarded public displays of fallibility as such a horrible concept for so long is developing a fresh, almost consistent theme.
Woods won’t win the 102nd US PGA Championship. There will be no 16th major title, which would bring him within two of the magic number set by Jack Nicklaus, at Harding Park. A third round of 72 left Woods two over par on aggregate and chasing a top-20 finish at absolute best.
When asked thereafter whether he has a finite number of major opportunities left in his career, the 44-year-old Woods was candid. The changing face of golf was the reference point. “There is,” he said. “There’s not as many as when I first started playing. The reality is that the golf courses are getting bigger. They are getting longer. The margin between making the cut and the lead is a lot smaller than it used to be. Used to be sometimes 12 to 15 shots.
“Now, we had, what, nine shots here? It’s just different. It’s getting tighter and it’s getting harder to win events, but you look at the leaderboard of most major championships, you see the same guys. May not be always the same winners, but you see the same handful of guys are there.