Published January 13, 2015
One of the age old questions about golfers is, "Why don't they play more?"
Tiger Woods plays the same events every year, as long as he's healthy. He has his favorite courses, and tends not to stray from them.
And why should he?
He won his eighth Arnold Palmer Invitational on Monday, which tied him with Sam Snead as the only two players to have won a single PGA Tour event eight times.
Guess what? There are three other events Woods has won seven times.
Those events are the Farmers Insurance Open, World Golf Championship-Cadillac and WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. Twenty-nine victories in four tournaments.
If he had only played those four events every year, Woods would be tied for 18th on the PGA Tour all-time wins list and would have earned somewhere around $30 million for his career. In the last 13 months, four of his six wins have come in those events.
The formula works for Woods. There is no need to change.
Being a creature of habit, and playing well at the same events year in and year out, has helped Woods rise back to the top of the world rankings.
After his November 2009 car accident, which led to his divorce, Woods went into rehab and played just 13 official events that year. He missed Torrey Pines, site of the Farmers, and Bay Hill, which hosts the Palmer.
Missing his favorite events, and his general poor play led to him losing his long grip on the No. 1 spot atop the world rankings.
Woods competed in only 10 officials events in 2011 due to injury. Combine the injuries at the time with an on-going swing change, Woods plummeted outside the top 50 in the world rankings.
Back on track of his normal schedule in 2012, Woods won the Arnold Palmer Invitational. That marked his first victory since the car accident. He went on to The Memorial for the fifth time.
His victory two weeks ago at the Cadillac Championship marked his first WGC title since 2009. The formula is all coming back together for Woods.
The one missing piece since 2009 is a major championship.
At the aforementioned four tournaments where Woods owns 29 wins, those victories came in 12 different years. In nine of those 12 years, Woods also won a major championship.
On Monday, after the weather-delayed Arnold Palmer Invitational concluded, Woods was asked about being No. 1 again.
"If I get healthy, I know I can play this game at a high level," he said. "I know I can be where I'm contending in every event, contending in major championships and being consistent day in and day out, if I got healthy. That was the first step in the process. Once I got there, then my game turned. I've won six times on the tour in the last couple years, so that's not bad."
Woods makes it sound so simple. For him, it really is that easy. Give him his health, and confidence in his swing, and he'll be where he is now - at the top of his game.
FOWLER'S ODD STREAK
One of the NBC commentators mentioned an odd streak with Rickie Fowler. I wasn't sure I heard the stat correctly, so I looked it up for myself.
While battling Woods down the stretch at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Fowler dumped not one, but two balls into the water on the par-5 16th. That led to a triple-bogey, thus extending Fowler's odd streak.
Fowler has had a double or triple bogey in 15 consecutive tournaments.
I'd run down the gory details on an event-by-event basis, but that would be a painful read. Instead, I'll just give you the totals.
In his last 15 official PGA Tour stroke-play events, Fowler has 26 double bogeys and seven triple bogeys
Those numbers are a good indicator as to why Fowler has only won once on the PGA Tour.
* Woods leads the tour in some key categories such as scoring average, eagles (per hole) and strokes gained - putting. Some of other categories are as important, but not as well known. He also leads in scoring average before the cut, putting from 15-20 feet, putting from 15-25 feet and front nine scoring average.
* Everyone has seen the video of Sergio Garcia hitting a shot out of a tree at the Arnold Palmer Invitational last weekend. Neat shot for sure. But what no one paid attention to was that he duffed his next shot, then withdrew when Sunday's thunderstorm rolled through Bay Hill. Garcia, who has top-20 finishes in all of his six worldwide starts this year, injured his shoulder and Achilles while playing the shot. Hopefully, the injuries don't linger the remainder of his season.