March 17, 2015
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
- Woods hasn't played since withdrawing at Torrey Pines and announcing he wouldn't return until his game was ready. (Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Sean O'Hair knows about success and failure.
It's why, he says, he can relate to the struggles that Tiger Woods is going through.
"Obviously Tiger is going through some issues right now," O'Hair said Tuesday from Bay Hill. "I don't think that it's anything abnormal. When you look at all the greatest players in the game, you know, Jack, Arnold Palmer, all the greats, they've all had their ups and downs and I think the thing that with Tiger is that he's got to figure out what he wants to do and where he wants to be mentally, and I think that once he figures that out, he's going to be able to do whatever he wants to do again.
"I just think that he's lost and the only reason why I say that is because I see it in his eyes and I see it in how he's walking and I see it in how he's playing because that's where I've been. I've been living it."
Then in 2005, his rookie year on TOUR, he won the John Deere Classic and by the spring of the following year was the youngest player in the top 50 in the Official World Golf Rankings.
The success didn't sustain.
O'Hair has gone on to win three more times in his career, and nearly did again Sunday, but the last 10 years have featured as many downs as ups.
He dropped outside the top 400 in the world and last week needed a sponsor exemption just to get into the field at Innisbrook. Along the way, he split with caddies and coaches and struggled with the rigors of being a father of four who is on the road most weeks during the year.
"I've never lost my talent," O'Hair said. "I just think my mind got clouded with things that I didn't need to be thinking about. I almost forgot how to play the game and I forgot who I was as a player."
He sees Woods' striuggles in a similar light.
"I just think that his mind is just a little clouded and I don't think it has anything to do with his golf swing, I don't think it has anything to do with the fact he's not committed to the game," O'Hair continued. "I just think there's something there that's just bothering him and I think once he addresses that he'll be right back where he was."
When that will be is anyone's guess.
Woods, who hasn't played since withdrawing at Torrey Pines last month and announcing he was taking a break from golf to work on his game, isn't in the field at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard, a tournament he has won eight times. He also hasn't said definitively if he will play the Masters.