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What Do Tiger Woods and the Dow Jones Index Have in Common?

In troubled times, investors are as desperate as ever to find a financial advisor they can trust. Good news–I found him! Warren Buffett? No. Jim Cramer? Please. I’m talking about Tiger Woods.

Not only can Tiger predict the direction of the stock market, there’s a good chance he might be controlling it.

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Yes, as bizarre as it may seem, by superimposing a timeline of Tiger Woods’ career achievements with the corresponding Dow Jones Industrial Average ticker, one begins to notice an uncanny resemblance.

It’s a parallel that took form almost immediately, with the Dow increasing steadily after Tiger turned pro in the summer of 1996. In the six weeks that followed his first Tour victory that October, the Dow grew 10%. When Tiger won his first Masters by a record 12 shots the following April, it grew another 30%.

That jump has held true during each of Tiger’s most dominating stretches. From mid-1999 through the end of 2001, Tiger won 21 tournaments, 5 majors, and held all 4 major titles at the same time. Over that same period, the market expanded to unheard of levels, passing 11,000 for the first time ever. Six years later, while Tiger was in the middle of winning eight of nine events between 2007 and 2008, the Dow registered its all-time high of 14,164.53.

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But Tiger’s performance doesn’t just line up with bull markets. During those times when Tiger appears weakest, so does the Dow. In 2002, Tiger fired his longtime coach Butch Harmon and decided to attempt a much-maligned swing change. He wouldn’t win a major for over two years, and the market stalled right alongside him, unable to match its 2000 and 2001 highs.

Last summer was far worse. After winning the U.S. Open in June with a torn ACL and two stress fractures in his left leg, Tiger announced that he would be undergoing season-ending knee surgery. He confessed that he had no idea when he’d be returning, and many feared that he would never be the same. The Dow, clearly distraught, dropped nearly 5,000 points during Tiger’s eight-month absence.

And then there’s what transpired just this week. On Sunday afternoon, Woods was defeated in the final round of the PGA Championship by Y.E. Yang, a 37-year-old South Korean who didn’t even start playing golf until age 19. The stunning loss was also Tiger’s first ever in a major championship when holding the 54-hole lead. Did the market notice? Of course, it was off 200 points by the end of trading.

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The evidence is hard to debate but the significance is fair game. Is some part of this correlation coincidence? Sure. But I have to believe that just as James Braddock lifted the country’s spirits with his uppercuts during the Great Depression, Tiger Woods has the unique ability to do the same with his fistpumps. When he wins, all seems right with the world, and investing in it feels prudent. But when he struggles, perhaps that’s nature’s clearest indicator that dark days are truly upon us.

Bob Smiley is a golf writer and tailed Tiger Woods for his entire 2008 season, chronicling the adventure. The book, Follow the Roar, is out today in paperback. He also writes the golf blog Forerightbob.com and can be reached at bobsmiley77@gmail.com.