He was supposed to be finished, his career in the dumpster as it had been derailed by his once-chiseled body having broken down as well as off-the-course misadventures that made more news than his play on it.
It wasn’t that long ago his name was just one of those in the eye-straining 6-point agate type somewhere in the middle of the pack, as opponents no longer feared the sight of him in his red shirt on Sunday and his drives landed everywhere but in the fairway. He had become, gasp, just another member of the Tour, though he still drew big crowds of adoring fans who were hoping he could somehow catch lightning in a bottle and return to the days where it was his Tour, with everybody else just bit players.
But on Sunday, after a long struggle, Tiger Woods was all the way back. And he might be around for a while.
Just when it appeared his number of career majors had been permanently cemented at 14 and Jack Nicklaus’ fans could breathe a sigh of relief as 18 seemed to be out of the question, Tiger turned back the hands of time and tactically maneuvered his way around his favorite stomping ground Augusta National. He watched challenger after challenger self-destruct as this was the classic case of sage experience triumphing over youthful exuberance. The result was a one-stroke victory in perhaps the most electric Masters Tournament ever, giving golf the shot in the arm it needs to get back in the public consciousness.
Let’s face it, golf has missed the competitive Tiger. At least the fist-pumping Tiger, the Tiger on the prowl, the Tiger who can pull off seemingly impossible shots, the Tiger who hits the most dramatic shot when he needs it most.
He is, however, more restrained with his emotion. Maybe it’s Zen or some other inner peace mechanism. When he looked around Sunday, he defeated guys who are 20 years younger than him who can fly the ball past where his drives end up. He can still pound it, for sure, but he relies more on cunning and guile, not to mention the will to never give up. His resolution was steely, his nerves never frayed.
So Jack’s 18 majors are back in play. Now when there’s a major, Tiger’s name will be on the tip of everybody’s tongue and he’ll always be the favorite. Tiger didn’t feel the comeback was complete until he won a major, which is what he focuses on. Heck, his last one in 2008 basically came on one good leg as the other was mangled, which showed his amazing talent. That’s how good he used to be, Tiger on one good leg was better than the others on two good legs.
Golf now has its storyline moving forward. Can Tiger catch Jack? What about a grand slam? Can he reach 20 majors? For the rest of the year, as long as he stays healthy, it’s going to be Tiger, Tiger and more Tiger.