SI convened a panel of experts—senior writers Michael Bamberger, Alan Shipnuck and Gary Van Sickle as well as special contributor John Garrity and a PGA Tour pro (who participated on condition of anonymity)—to take up these and other questions
Van Sickle: Tiger Woods has three wins and is the leader in the clubhouse for player of the year, yet he still has critics. Where do you stand on Tiger?
Shipnuck: He's turning into Phil Mickelson—wildly inconsistent and almost more fun to watch when he's not playing well. You don't know what you're going to get from Tiger week to week, even round to round. I don't think he knows what he's going to turn up with either. His good golf is still very good, but his bad golf is as bad as everybody else's.
Garrity: After several years of having the worst tempo on Tour, Tiger has superb tempo again. That was evidence he's back. He had his old tempo the first two days at the U.S. Open, and the main thing is, he picked up the pace of his takeaway. When he was working on his swing, it had become draggy. He's swinging with confidence again.
Anonymous Pro: With three wins, he has obviously figured out something. The lack of consistency is baffling. I thought he'd play well at Greenbrier because it's so less demanding off the tee than Congressional, where he won.
Garrity: It's a small point, but I was surprised he played Greenbrier. Playing at elevation was always his justification for not playing the International. It seemed out of character for him to play at 2,000 feet before England.
Bamberger: Yes, John, but it was in character for the guy who played in the United Arab Emirates instead of at Torrey Pines, where he has won a half dozen times.
Anonymous Pro: To me, Greenbrier was all about Tiger collecting the alleged appearance fee, and 99 out of 100 Tour players thought the same thing. Look at his three wins—Bay Hill, Memorial, Congressional. He outlasted everybody on very demanding courses. Tiger plans his schedule around those kinds of places, not shootout golf courses where you have to go low, like Greenbrier. They aren't in his wheelhouse.
Van Sickle: His wheelhouse used to be the majors. How about now? If he can win one more major, he can win five more. And I think he can win one more.