And the Tiger Roars!
Yup. It happened. He’s Back! And, oddly enough, the tremendous amount of support that has congealed for Tiger Woods was absolutely apparent when the crowd seemed just as happy as the player – if not more.
When Tiger landed that ball on the final green at the Arnold Palmer Invitational on Sunday, he closed the book (perhaps – but with this ridiculous tell-all coming out soon, who knows?) on his troubles, issues, pain and agony. He proved to the world that he was unstoppable, and although the tiger had been injured by a hunter (himself; this is a man who definitely shot himself in the foot), he was still able to rise up once again and show that the ‘best of the best’ is still in his blood.
Yes, Tiger won his first official victory on the PGA Tour since 2009. It’s been two and half years filled with everything from humiliation to injuries. Tiger lost his family, friends, coaches and, sometimes worst of all for a sportsmen of his caliber, his sponsors. Every headline has said time and time again that the master was over. He showed up in comic strips, South Park – he was banished by one and all. Yet, just in the past six months there have been chants arising. It seemed that the big scarlet ‘A’ that hung around his neck was dissolving, as the Tiger of yesteryear came back into everyone’s imaginations.
He makes the sport of golf fun and entertaining – which are not adjectives that can usually be used with this particular sport. There was no agony of defeat or thrilling wins when Tiger was on the ‘dark side.’ But now – out of nowhere – everyone is back in the Tigermania fold and he is now the favorite to win the Masters and don that green jacket once again. If he doesn’t – the agony of defeat will REALLY bother the fans this time around. From evil to golden boy – the true Tiger has returned!
Tiger was very humble with this win. He said the words: “Just pure joy,” after his commanding five-stroke victory. Yet his celebration remained subdued. Even the fist pumps and bear hugs that are trademarks of Tiger’s were much more restrained. Perhaps he doesn’t want to get ‘too happy, too fast.’ There are a great many egos in all sports (some of which we know, love, and detest) who would’ve taken a lot of time yesterday afternoon to say, “In your face!” to the myriad of people and critics who said that Tiger would never win a golf game again…but he didn’t.
As always, Tiger acted as if it were a normal occurrence for him to win a golf game. Whether that be ego, or he simply waited to go home and draw his curtains so he could jump around and celebrate, no one will ever know. Is this a comeback? Or, in Tiger’s mind, did he simply assume he was having a ‘dry spell’ and nothing more? Whichever the case may be, his fans celebrated for him – and boisterously. This is now PGA tour career win No. 72, just one behind the great Jack Nicklaus.
“It’s not like winning a major championship or anything, but it certainly feels really good,” Woods said.
What did his friends say? His caddie, LaCava, said that: “He’s very jacked. He probably wishes the Masters was tomorrow.” The caddie also said that Woods was “a man on a mission today.” Oddly enough, he also said that the 13-under win by five was just about the worst score Tiger could’ve shot Although, let’s be honest, I’m sure there were other players who wished they had shot that badly.
LaCava went on to say that: “Even a guy like that still needs to win to have confidence and gain more confidence, so I think it gives him a lot of confidence going into Augusta and the rest of the year.” He continued, “It proves to him that all the hard work’s paid off and he can still get it done. I don’t think he ever doubted himself, but it’s nice to win so you can have that confidence.” Perhaps LaCava is now Tiger’s mouthpiece and not his caddie. OR, Tiger was already in the restroom or janitor’s closet where no one could see him, jumping up and down and thanking the gods for letting him be back on top. (That’s what I would have done).
Graeme McDowell was the one person who had the ability to, and was even close enough to stop Woods from finally taking home a win, but the 2010 U.S. Open champion made one mistake right after the other, shooting 74 and finishing in second place.
“The better man won today,” the Irishman said. But, of course, the Masters is another day entirely.
Other players did speak about the Tiger that returned this past weekend, and they even had a new outlook for the now ‘killer’ match in front of them all.
Justin Rose said that Tiger is going to be the man to beat at Augusta. And others weighed in by saying that if Tiger is going to be playing like this again, he will most definitely dominate golf again.
Does this mean that the ‘Youngers’ are done? Heck, no. Rory McIlroy has begun a new ‘young generation golf cult’ that will be growing by leaps and bounds in the future, BUT Tiger is quite obviously not yet done with his reign.
Zach Johnson commented on this turn of events by saying that: “There are some young guys out there who have an immense amount of talent, but if and when they make putts when they have to make putts, then I might rescind my comment. But I haven’t seen that yet. But making putts when you have to make putts, executing when you have to execute, there’s no one who’s ever played the game who’s been any better than Tiger.”
Thankfully for real sports enthusiasts who want something interesting to watch (no offense to the NCAA lovers out there) golf will at least offer some excitement and zeal as it leads up to the most anticipated Masters in recent memory. It is a truly rare occurrence that the world’s best players are all entering the golf season’s first major while sitting at the ‘top of their games.’
Tiger commented on the upcoming tournament by saying: “I understand how to play Augusta National, and I’m looking forward to my opportunities this year.”
And, yes, folks – there was a wide and happy smile on his face when that statement was made. Two weeks ago the question on everyone’s lips as whether Tiger could even play again after his injury, but now the lips are moving fast and furious about whether or not he is poised to become the ‘ruling entity’ over the green once again!
I say…Bring on the Masters!