Tiger Woods

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The Cat's Sunday

Tiger was back. The guy who made golf exciting.

July 23, 2018 - 10:58 am

Francesco Molinari was the man yesterday. But for much of the day, the man was a 42-year old whose last major was 10 years and countless surgeries, scandals and trips to rehab, ago – Eldrick Woods. And yesterday it was all about one word: back. 

And for the first time in a long time, it wasn’t about his back. It was about whether he was back. Because for the first time since he’s been wrecking his back, he actually looked like he was back. Legitimately back. And like he might legitimately win a major. 

And I don’t even mean that as a set-up to where I play a clip of him complaining about a fan yelling. Although there was that.

Speaking of backs, Tiger went into yesterday on the back of a third round 66, which gave him a very good look. And that look got even better as he birdied 4 and 6. The roars were getting louder, the moment was getting bigger. It was legitimately exciting. There’s golf excitement and then there’s Tiger Woods golf excitement. And with all due respect to ever other player who tees it up and wins, Tiger Woods excitement is just different. It’s bigger. Tiger Woods excitement is more exciting.  

I’ll save you the worn-out “golf is better when Tiger is contending” take. Of course it is. Golf is better when Tiger is contending is like saying water is wet when, well, it’s water. Everyone knows golf is better when Tiger is better because that’s when everyone knows there’s golf.

And yesterday, most people knew that golf was being played, even if it was being played across the ocean. 

Don’t get it twisted. Like his game, Tiger’s impact now isn’t what it was in his prime. Not even close. Back then, golf fans, non-golf fans, and non-sports fans knew when Tiger was contending for something that matters. If you had eyes or ears, you knew about Tiger. Back then he set the entire world on fire, now it’s just the sports world. But doesn’t mean that there isn’t buzz. There’s a ton of it. 

And for the 23 minutes where he had the lead on the Sunday of the Open Championship, the internet was on fire. Back in the day, the Fail Whale would’ve been doing laps on Twitter. But fortunately, Twitter’s servers are a little more robust these days, so instead it was just one Tiger emoji after another from Tiger Honks who buzzing hard on what they were seeing.

Tiger was back. The guy who made golf exciting. The guy who made golf must-watch. The guy who made golf cool. And of course that’s a double-edged sword because it means he made it cool for tools and wannabe frat bros who love to shout “mashed potatoes” and drop lingo like “stripe,” to show just how cool they are. Whatever. For 23 minutes when he was in the lead, that didn’t matter. For 23 minutes, Tiger was the biggest thing on the planet. For 23 minutes, Tiger Honks mainlining the rug. 

And speaking of Tiger Honks, let me take a moment to address you. I am not here for you coming in today and saying you always knew this was going to happen. You didn’t know that. You hoped it might. You dreamed it might. You prayed it might. But you didn’t know it. 

And it still hasn’t happened. He made a great run on the weekend, something he hasn’t done recently, but he crumbled when it mattered, something he has done recently. It was an awesome charge. It was a great moment and for a bit, he was playing some great golf when it mattered most. But in the end, his game did not hold up to the pressure of the moment. It just didn’t. 

And yet again, it’s a reminder that this is a different Tiger. The old Tiger wouldn’t have dropped out of the lead of a major on Sunday. The older Tiger does that. As he would say, it happens. It happens to us all.  

In fact, no sooner did he take then lead then things started to go a little haywire. Par saves on 8 and 9 and then the double on 11 and bogey 12. 

It was a great performance from him at a major for the first time in a long time. But let’s pump the brakes a little. Anyone guaranteeing another major from him is begging. Yeah, he led on a Sunday at the Open Championship, but he didn’t make it to Saturday and Sunday at the US Open. And that was last month. 

This much we know: he could win another major. We didn’t know that before. We thought he might be able to. Now we know he could. But he hasn’t. And until he does, that’s all it is. A could. A really, really exciting, awesome thrilling “could.” But still just a could. He’s not back. That Tiger is never coming back. That Tiger is dead. But this one is competitive;  and actually looks like a diff dude off the course. And by that, I mean actually a pretty good dude. I’ll reserve further judgment about that, and his game, but this was a very good weekend. For him. And for the sport.