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PGA Tour Players Talk Anonymously About Tiger Woods

PGA Tour Players Talk Anonymously About Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods is the one golfer who can make news without picking up a club, earning headlines recently when he had parted ways with swing coach Sean Foley. And Tiger's knack for eliciting strong opinions is not limited to fans and media. Over the weekend at the Barclays, we persuaded many of his peers on the PGA Tour to share their anonymous opinions of Tiger, who may be currently out of sight but is never out of mind.

Will Tiger ever get back to where he was?

"There is no chance Tiger gets back to being at his absolute dominant best from 2000 and times like that. He was as close to unbeatable as you can get in golf back in some of those stretches. But he can certainly get back to a point where he wins more than once in a season."

"I always say, never write off a champion, and Tiger Woods is a champion."

"It depends on the definition. Tiger early 2000 is probably unattainable ever again for anyone. But Tiger 2013 with five wins … I could see that potentially happening once more if he can truly get his body right."

"Tiger Woods will never be as dominant as he was. He will never strike fear into people the way he once did. He used to beat players with his B and even C game because he had them between the ears, but not anymore."

"Back to his best? No. Back to being number one in the game? He could easily do that if healthy."

"I am not prepared to say no. I am probably leaning towards no, but he’s the type that proves people wrong. It is easier for the rest of us if he isn’t at his dominant best!"

"I think age catches up with all of us. And while Tiger can be successful again, I don’t think he can ever be as good as he was at his absolute best. That doesn’t mean he can’t be awesome, just not as good as he was."

Will Tiger challenge Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 majors?

"I don’t think so. If he can win one next season, he has a small chance, but if he doesn’t then I think it will be a bridge too far."

"Yes. He will win a major or two in 2015, if he really truly can get fit again and then it will be on. You can see the determination in his eyes at majors. All he needs is to be fit and get a little bit of luck and once he gets number 15, over that hump, I think old Tiger will be back."

"I would love to see him get to 18 near the end of his career and then be a great side story at some majors while he’s heading towards retirement. It would be great if he had a Tom Watson Open Championship moment at the Masters."

"Probably not. I think golf fans and even some players would like to see it. There was a time you thought he could get 25 but now it seems the number 15 is a hurdle he can’t get over."

"Won’t even sniff it. There is just too much talent out here now and his body is not up to the challenge."

"Can’t really see it happening any more. But he’s closer than any of the rest of us, and if he did it would be very impressive."

"Sadly, I think his chance at that might have gone."

Should Tiger change teachers (maybe go back to Butch Harmon)?

Note: We posed this question before the news broke that Woods had parted ways with swing coach Sean Foley.

"A coach is a personal choice and you do what feels right for you so for me to suggest who he should go to would be kind of pointless."

"I can’t see Tiger going back to someone he has had before. Maybe he might make another change at some point but he won plenty of times since taking on Sean (Foley)."

"Yes, he should go back to his 2000 swing with Butch. But he won’t."

"Butch is probably one of the game’s best coaches but I’m not sure Tiger is the type to go back. The only person who probably knows what fit is best is Tiger himself."

"At this point I don’t think it would matter who Tiger had coaching him. Probably someone with experience in minimizing strain on the back."

"I would not be surprised if he changes again very soon. But he won’t got to Butch."

Are Tiger’s problems purely physical?

"Not purely but it is a big part. Back surgery, or any surgery in golf is hard to overcome. It is one thing to be healthy again but the difference out here is so close between players anything slightly off can be magnified."

"Almost. He still seems very determined to win."

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"I haven’t seen his doctor's notes, nor am I a doctor, so I cannot judge how much of it is physical and what isn’t. I am sure there are some mental scars, because when you have injuries it is very hard not to be thinking about them."

"When you have physical problems it is almost always followed by mental issues as you worry about the injuries and other things instead of just playing golf."

Even in light of his serious health concerns, many of Tiger's contemporaries are reluctant to write off the 14-time major champion.

Will Tiger be missed on the Ryder Cup team?

"No doubt. Of course his presence will be missed. You can’t tell me at least half the European side would not be a little afraid if it came down to a singles match against Tiger on Sunday."

"Is that a trick question? The guy is a 14-time major winner with tons of team play experience. Even half fit he would be missed."

"Of course. It is impossible to replace his experience and determination and will to win."

"A little bit, yeah, but the team will be better off not having to try to carry an unfit Tiger. He probably wouldn’t have wanted to sit out at all so it could have been a difficult situation for Tom Watson."

"A fit Tiger would have been a big weapon for the U.S. team, but unfit, he may have just been a passenger and could have actually provided the Europeans with more confidence."

"Yes. You can’t buy experience like his."

"Not in the shape he was in. The European team will be full of stars, and any unfit golfer would have trouble earning points against them."

Can golf thrive without Tiger at the top?

"Yes. Maybe not at the same level, at least for a while, but there is always new talent coming. Rory (McIlroy) and Rickie (Fowler) and guys like this can carry the torch of new viewers."

"Not like it did when he was at his best. But with some careful planning and the right moves the transition, whenever it comes, could be smoother."

"It survived and thrived in times before Tiger and it will do the same again."

"I think so. It is up to all of us to provide quality golf, quality contests and relate to the fans as best we can."

"It will take golf a long time to get back to the massive popularity it had when he was dominant. Plus things like cost to play, time to play and other issues need to be sorted to help the sport grow."

"Yes, but it needs young guys to keep playing well. People like dominance in sports. Guys like Rory, Rickie, Jason Day and the like need to take the torch."

"The game was around well before Tiger and will be around 300 years after him. All sports have their ups and downs."

Can Rory McIlroy fill the post-Tiger void?

"If he gets on and stays on these dominant runs he can. But doing that will be one almighty task. It might fall on Rory and a few other guys with him."

"It doesn’t need to just be Rory. But maybe a few guys in a so-called rivalry with him. If a handful of guys like Rickie Fowler, Jason Day, Jordan Spieth, Hideki Matsuyama or even guys a little older like Adam Scott and Bubba Watson could consistently go toe to toe with him it could get really exciting."

"The fans certainly seem to have warmed to him and he’s playing great, so why not?"

"Yes he can. But so can at least 10 other guys should they get on similar runs."

"Golf could really move into an era now where a handful of guys are in the mix in the big events creating great Sunday finishes over and over again." 

"Sure. He showed at the British Open he can play the dominant golfer and then at the PGA Championship the way he made the turn when it looked he was being beaten and stepped it up to win shows he is more than the real deal."

Compiled by Ben Everill

Follow him on Twitter @beneverill