No athlete in recent memory has faced greater scrutiny on the comeback trail than Tiger Woods.
Golf fans keep waiting and wondering when they will finally see the old Tiger show up on the golf course. They wonder if Woods will ever reclaim the form that propelled him to dominate majors and strike fear in opponents before injuries and scandal overwhelmed him in recent years.
The answer is that Woods seems closer than ever before to resurrecting his game and returning to the elite status he took for granted most of his career.
Woods turned quite a few heads with his win at the Memorial Tournament on Sunday. And he did it with an exclamation point. Woods sank three birdies on his final four holes . The most spectacular of the quartet was the 16th hole where he chipped it in from 50 feet away in heavy rough. That shot brought out the roaring approval of the crowd and the jubilant fist pump from Woods that were once a staple of multiple PGA Tour stops. He shot a 5-under 67 in the final round to claim a two stroke victory.
In winning the Memorial a record fifth time, Woods achieved an important career milestone. He tied Jack Nicklaus for no. 2 all-time in PGA Tour victories with his 73rd career win. He just needs nine more to match all-time leader, Sam Snead. Woods is a full 10 years younger than Nicklaus was when he reached that mark. It stands to reason he has more victories left in the tank than many of his critics presumed coming into 2012.
Woods has been a shadow of his former self since claiming his last U.S. Open title in 2008. If there is a place where he can regain his former glory, this would be it. Woods offered up one of the greatest moments of his career when he fought through a stress fracture in his leg and a torn anterior cruciate ligament at Torrey Pines to beat Rocco Mediate in a 19 hole playoff.
Woods' quest to overtake Nicklaus' record of 18 major titles seemed insurmountable a few months ago. His latest win at the Memorial has Woods and his fans feeling good about his chances and it has given them license to start thinking big again.
John Coon enjoys getting in a round from time to time in the Salt Lake City area.
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