We had heard it before, Tiger stating
he was getting better, feeling stronger or that he was “close.” Months ago it was either a strong day one, only to fall off day two. Shortly thereafter, his name was occasionally spotted above the cut line. He would say things like “I did some good things out there today” and soon found himself In The Hunt on Sundays repping his Sunday Red. Was it legit? (I even wore all red on Sunday at the Valspar Championship in anticipation of his triumphant return). Many of the top experts swore he was done, that he couldn’t compete let alone win again due to the multiple surgeries and his age (let’s not forget he is over 40 now). How could that man possibly come back and compete with all the young talent out there on tour? I had my doubts that's for sure.
Warming up at the Tour Championship Sunday, he looked good, he looked focused in the practice area (Let's not forget it's been a while since he found himself in this position headed into a final round), the golf world knew it and so did he. Golf needed it and so did he. If you were to genetically engineer a golfer, you would fabricate a clone of Tiger Woods in his prime, but would you consider the current Tiger? Probably not. I won't even bother chasing a metaphor to describe his focus and demeanor leading out to the first tee box of the day, there isn't one. As he walked out to the first tee, you could see he was in that place, the place he had gone so many times before, 79 times before. With a three-stroke lead over McIlroy and Rose, an undefeated 23-0 record when leading by three or more stepping onto the first tee box on the final day you may be thinking this is it. His first tee shot would tell us if he had arrived at his place, a place that I feel teeters on the fine line of light and dark mentally, one that he has not been get to since August 4, 2013, his last win.
Tee 1: Driver shot was absolutely piped landing in the fairway after a little fade leaving him 164 yards away. The ensuing 8 iron was pured and landed 10 feet from the pin and 6 feet closer than any other player in the field. Of course he made the putt and I was sold. Tiger was back and win number 80 was a wrap.
I'll spare you the play by play, you can find that on thousands of other sites. The golf business in my mind has been given a mulligan with this win so we need to plan accordingly. But know this, Tiger is back and as he goes, golf goes for now as evidenced via all the social media traffic showing the crowd on hole 18. Tiger will carry the load for a while but...he does have a bad back.
Photos: Found on Instagram but courtesy of
Sam Greenwood (Top Right)
Tim Bradbury (Middle Right)
John Amis (Bottom Right)
Yahoo Sports (Left)