December 04, 2011
When Tiger Woods used to be Tiger Woods, The Man Everyone Feared, he had an incredible ability that not many professional golfers possess. He could fix his golf swing during a round. Sure, there were times when it just wasn't clicking or the shots weren't going as he wanted, but at times he'd be struggling until the last few holes and then just dial it in, find the right stuff and make it happen. It was truly an art form.
No, we're not here to talk about the Tiger of old. On Sunday at the Chevron World Classic at Sherwood Country Club in southern California, Woods struggled like he had over the last 749 days — the time between trophies. A two-shot lead was turned into a one-shot deficit with two holes to go, and it looked like another tournament would slip away from the once-great Woods. But a funny thing happened. Tiger found it again. At first, with a 9-iron on the par-3 17th, where Tiger kept the ball below the hole, rolled in a must-make birdie and fist pumped like it was 2001. The second instance came on the final hole, when Tiger pulled a move from Harding Park when he walked after his second shot, watched as a gritty Zach Johnson couldn't find the bottom of the cup with his birdie bid, and then finally, thankfully, dropped in a putt to win his first event in two years.
[ Related: Photos of Woods' long-awaited win ]
We could fill up DVD after DVD of celebrations by Tiger Woods. He has run after putts, thrown down his cap, high-fived multiple caddies and even shed tears. But no fist pump in his career looked as genuine as the one when that putt dropped on the 72nd hole at Sherwood. Tiger finally had an opportunity to do something, and did it, not on someone else's terms but on his own. He won that golf tournament, and his reaction was made to remind you of that.
A lot of people will talk about the time between wins and what was different then as opposed to now, but the story isn't really that. It's just that a guy played good enough golf to beat some of the best players in the world, and when the opportunity presented itself for Tiger on Sunday, he took it.
The golf world needed it, Tiger needed it, and to be honest, his competitors needed it. An NBC camera intelligently caught a glimpse of Johnson watching as Tiger's birdie putt dropped on 18 and the look he had said it all.
"Yup," Johnson appeared to nod, "he's back." I think we can all agree about that.
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