A Happy Tiger
Okay, this is what we’ve been waiting for. Tiger is on the prowl again.
It was the Tiger of old as Woods turned it on over the final 11 holes (seven-under) of Friday’s second round of The Masters from Augusta National, shot a 66, and got everybody, not the least of whom were the suits at CBS, when he put himself into solid third place behind only Rory McIlroy and Jason Day. All right. Bet you can’t wait for this afternoon when Woods tees it up and we all watch in near rapture as the greatest athlete/golfer there ever was tries to wake up the roars and echoes at Amen Corner.
One shot encapsulated Tiger’s startling return to form on Friday. It was his second on number 18. He pushed his tee shot to the right and had trouble with some overhanging branches of the Georgia pines we have all learned to love. Tiger set up for a monster fade with a short iron, put a swing on the ball like only Tiger can do, and watched as the shot fell down to within 12 feet of the hole. Cue Tiger’s fist pump, the high-five from caddie Stevie Williams and a monster roar from the gallery. That Tiger made the putt to put him at seven under was icing on the cake.
Love him, hate him, doubt him or admire his game and not the man, there is nobody else in golf, maybe sports, that generates such intense visceral viewing pleasure than Tiger Woods. He does things that no other golfer, and these guys are the best in the world, can do, i.e., that approach on 18. Maybe something in him clicked at his favorite course in the world, perhaps the new swing is cooking at the just the right time, maybe Tiger just wants to play golf again and forget about all the insanity that has swirled around him and in his head for several years. Whatever it is, it’s fun to watch and we can’t get enough.
So, can he win? Sure, why not. He needs to shoot at least three or four under today to put himself at a point where he will be the guy everybody will have to beat on Sunday. Will he be there when the Masters really starts, the final nine holes tomorrow? I think so. I saw the old swagger return yesterday and his play was crisp and focused the entire round. And he made putts. He could have given up when he was wallowing around even-par early in his round but he didn’t and made magic happen. That was vintage Tiger.
Now we need to see him back up a great round with another, something he hasn’t been able to do since his comeback began. If he does, we very well could have one heck of a story to write Sunday night. And golf as we once knew it, will be fun and watchable for the masses again.