Follow Shane Bacon on Twitter at @shanebacon.
Sometimes, all you need is a little weight lifted off your shoulders to feel like yourself again. On Monday, Tiger Woods announced on his website that he and wife Elin would be splitting up, news that shouldn't come as a shock to most after all that was discovered in 2010, but still news nonetheless. It was something that was inevitable, and even though a guy like Tiger is still thinking a ton about it, a hurdle he had to cross to get back to himself.
Then, on Thursday, because of his low ranking, Tiger was teeing off first at the Barclays, the first event of the FedEx Cup playoffs which were basically created for a guy like Tiger to add to his bankroll. After round one, where Tiger shot a 6-under 65 to share the early lead at Ridgewood Country Club, it seems that maybe this is what he needed to get back his golf game.
Maybe we've all been speculating a little too much, as writers and journalists tend to do in situations like this. Maybe we analyzed his swing and his putting stroke and his ability to maneuver golf courses poorly, and it was just a little too much debris floating around in Tiger's attic. Maybe Tiger just needed to get back to Tiger, and although what he did was all his fault, and his personal life will probably never be the same, we as golf fans really just want him to be good at golf again, as selfish as that is.
How did Tiger open with his best round since the AT&T National in 2009? Well, for one, he actually hit the ball like the Tiger of old. Woods drove the ball in 92 percent of the fairways on Thursday, and hit 83 percent of his greens, stats that have taken a nosedive this season compared to seasons in the past. Also, he needed just 27 putts, nothing spectacular but good enough to put together a solid round.
If Tiger goes on to win this week (and trust me, that is the biggest "what if" of any), it'll show a lot, but mostly it'll show that when he is in his game on the golf course, 100 percent in it, he's still as tough as we've ever seen playing the game.
Maybe the divorce will take a toll on him in the offseason, when he has those long nights at his mansion without a wife or the kids running around, but for now, Tiger can shut the door on that and just focus on hitting fairways and making birdies.
So far, that plan seems to be working brilliantly.
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