Former US Open champion McDowell spoke to a group of reporters at the Arnold Palmer Invitational last week and was quoted on pgatour.com saying that 14-time Major winner Woods has “lost that sort of force field of invincibility around him”.
“The aura is not as strong,” McDowell added. “He’s still Tiger Woods, still the greatest player ever in my opinion. I don’t remember the first time I played with him but there was a real ‘wow’ factor. He was playing a different sport than me. But guys get older, stuff happens.”
Defending champion Woods did not play at Bay Hill due to ongoing back problems which threaten his participation in next month’s Masters at Augusta. The 38-year-old has not won a Major since the 2008 US Open.
McDowell feels some of his comments were taken out of context and wrote on his Twitter page yesterday: “I spent 90 per cent of my press conference last week at Bay Hill being asked questions about Tiger, speculating about where his game is right now.
“Many of my quotes have been taken out of context and spun quite negatively. It’s hard for me to comment on Tiger in the early 2000s. I can only say that he has raised the bar so much in the sport globally and players are so much better equipped to win these days.
“He seems more beatable nowadays simply because the players around him are better and have more belief thanks to Tiger moving the needle.
“I really shouldn’t get caught up in speculation and opinion especially when talking about TW. You set yourself up for failure. #nocomment”.
Meanwhile, Pádraig Harrington’s hopes of reaching the Masters for a 15th consecutive year suffered another setback yesterday after he carded a four-over-par round of 76 on day one of the Valero Texas Open in San Antonio.
The Dubliner’s round was a mix of three birdies but also five bogeys and an eighth-hole double bogey as he finished eight shots behind the clubhouse leader, American Pat Perez.
Fellow British Open winner Phil Mickelson fared little better, slipping to the tail of the field and doubling the last hole in a round of 77 in his first Texas Open appearance since his rookie season in 1992.
It was the five-time Major winner’s poorest score in 25 rounds in the 2013/14 PGA Tour wraparound schedule.
A spectator seeking Mickelson’s autograph on a 2010 Masters flag asked if his game was in good shape ahead of a return to Augusta, to which Lefty responded: “No, not at this stage."