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Tiger misses the point of slump talk

Golf being a gentleman's sport, some phrases have been deemed inappropriate. Therefore, we cannot use the word that best describes Tiger Woods' career status.

But we can drop hints.

It rhymes with clump, or dump or Forrest Gump. And Tiger's eyes dilate when it is mentioned.

"It's been more of annoyance than anything," he said, "because I have to keep answering it."

Okay, we'll answer it for you. You are in a s-s-s-sluh . . . slump!

There, that wasn't so hard. Only there's been a growing debate over the issue. It culminated Tuesday at his PGA Championship press conference. Tiger took his driver and swung at a reporter who dared ask the S question.

Fortunately, it was his Nike driver. So he missed.

"Christ, I've won four times," Tiger said.

That would be plenty, if not for one thing. He's Tiger Woods. All he has to do is look up the definition of "slump."

Merriam-Webster says it as "a marked or sustained decline." Cambridge says it's "a fall in the price, value, sales, etc. of something." The PGA dictionary says it's when "Kenny Perry might beat you for Player of the Year."

Nothing against Perry, who's had a fabulous year by Kenny Perry standards. But if he doesn't win this week, it will be the first year since last year he hasn't won a major. For Tiger, it will be the first time in five years.

Forget history, go with math. When you win seven of 11 majors at one point, you're winning percentage is .663. When you are 0-for-5, your winning percentage is .000. That pretty much qualifies as "a marked or sustained decline."

If Tiger breaks out of his slump at Oak Hill Country Club, it does not mean he was never in one. Ben Affleck can't win an Oscar in 2005 and pretend "Gigli" never happened.

That's a bit harsh, but Tiger shouldn't feel so insulted when the S word comes up. He invented the Tiger Slam a few years ago. Let's just call this the Tiger Slump. Mere mortals need not apply.

He's the one who defines success by majors, not Buick Invitationals. A young Tiger kept a list of Jack Nicklaus' 18 on his bedroom wall. The current slump is good and bad for golf.

Good because everybody likes competition. And there's an element that loves it when Tiger struggles.

Bad because a larger segment likes to see the Tigernator. Just ask whichever network is carrying the tournament.

If Tiger were mired in your standard mystery slump (see David Duval), TV executives would be jumping out of windows. He's usually been in contention, but the big putts that used roll in now roll by. And don't even ask about his driver.

Oh, go ahead. The situation may not be proof there is a God. But it is proof he doesn't wear Nikes.

Tiger has given up on the high-tech, rough-seeking Nike driver. He'll be swinging his trusty old Titleist this week.

"It's a lot of fun going back to something you've had success with," Woods said.

There's a quote you will not see in the next Nike commercial. For the shoe giant, this is like Michael Jordan showing up in Skechers. I'd like to feel the company's pain, but I'm afraid Nike would somehow convert it to dollars and give them to LeBron James.

Switching from anything Nike might be the ultimate definition of a Tiger Slump. Discussing it undoubtedly gets annoying, but there is one way for Woods to shut everybody up.

Just Do It.

Hey, that might make a nice Titleist slogan.


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