Tiger Woods Finishes T-2 at 2018 PGA Tour Valspar Championship
Tiger Woods nearly ended his 5-year PGA Tour win drought Sunday at the Valspar Championship at Innisbrook in Palm Harbor, FL, finishing tied with Patrick Reed for second place, one stroke behind winner Paul Casey.
Woods entered the last two holes of the fourth round needing a birdie on each. Showing signs of the Tiger of old, Woods sank a 44-foot putt to birdie No. 17; however, his par on the final hole would leave his quest to reclaim his position among the PGA Tour elite on hold for at least one more week.
While continuing to get as many PGA Tour reps as possible before the Masters in April, Tiger will play the Arnold Palmer Invitational next weekend at Orlando’s Bay Hill, a course Woods has won on 8 times.
Tiger Woods impact on the PGA Tour can’t be overstated. With Tiger in contention, Saturday’s third round of the Valspar Championship saw the highest TV rating in nearly 12 years.
In his five tournaments since returning to the PGA Tour following his fourth back surgery, Woods has bettered his finishing position each time out in 2018. After missing the cut at the Genesis Open, Tiger has finished tied for 23rd, 12th, and tied for second.
Since winning the Las Vegas Invitational in October 1996, Woods, 42, has amassed 79 PGA Tour victories. His father, Earl, introduced his son to the sport before Tiger was two years old. After which, Tiger did not take a substantial break from the sport until the chaos surrounding his infidelities in 2009 became too much of a mental burden.
In the years since, Tiger Woods has struggled to regain the form and mental toughness that helped make him one of the PGA Tour’s living legends. A string of injuries has hampered each attempted comeback, culminating with a spinal fusion in 2017. But, with his continued progression, Woods looks to be reconnecting with the skills that set him apart, something that should be a cause of concern for his PGA Tour competitors.
For his fellow PGA Tour golfers, Tiger Woods’s strong showings are sure to equal an increase in media attention. However, the string of strong performances could also be indicative of something far more stressful for the rest of the field, it could be a sign that Woods’s brain is remembering, through the phenomenon known as Spacing, also known as the Spacing Effect, the skills that shaped his career.
Spacing Effect refers to the learning and retention of information. Spacing Effect states that we learn and acquire skills more effectively and easily when we study or practice several times spaced out over a longer time span, rather than trying to learn in a short period of time. While temporary skills are better learned by immediate repetition, skills that are needed over a longer span are better learned over a longer span. Woods’s recent performances could signal that he is finding those old skills again; the scary part is, thanks to Spacing, if that is what is happening, Tiger could soon be playing at a level never before seen on the PGA Tour.
Earl Woods famously made a young Tiger Woods memorize the facts and statistics of Jack Nicklaus’s career with the goal of one day breaking the monumental records. If the time off has truly helped him return to the skills and form that made Tiger Woods Tiger Woods, and if, thanks to spacing, his brain is reconnecting with those skills and continuing to build upon them, Earl Woods’s dream may still someday be reality.