Tiger Woods

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Eldrick Freakin Woods

Did I really see Tiger Woods with 8 birdies in the final round of a major?

August 13, 2018 - 10:21 am

And then there’s Eldrick Woods. I’ll say it right here and right now. I never thought I’d see that guy in that spot again. And show up the way that he did. He put himself in position with a pair of 66s on Friday and Saturday, but doing it on Sunday in a major is something different. And something he hadn’t done in a long, long time. 

In recent years, if he’d worked himself into contention on Sunday, he quickly work himself out of it. Show up Sunday morning, get everyone hyped , and then implode  under pressure. Those moments were too big for him. He couldn’t hang. He’d turn in a 75 and be long gone before the end.

But not yesterday. Yesterday was a 64. His best Sunday score in a major. Ever. Yes, you heard that. He just fired his best Sunday score in a major ever. And his first top five in a major in five years. His final three rounds was the lowest 54-hole score in a major in his career. Ever. By four shots.

And there have been moments where I never thought I’d see that again. And I’m still not sure that I saw it. Did I really see Tiger Woods with 8 birdies in the final round of a major? What year is this? I half expected to turn on the radio during the back nine and hear Matchbox Twenty or Vertical Horizon. 

But no, it’s 2018. And the crowd was roaring like they’ve never roared before. 

Back in the day, it was the roar of eventual victory. It was the roar of dominance. 

This time it was the roar of “could this really be happening?” They were willing him on and he was responding. That was a lovefest between player and gallery the likes of which we haven’t seen in a long time.

Don’t get me wrong. There is nothing more annoying than Tiger fans. Especially when he’s struggling and they’re trying to convince themselves that he’s back. But yesterday’s gallery was pretty damn awesome. 

And so was Tiger. And he did it without his best game. He was fighting it the entire way. And whereas he would’ve lost that fight in previous majors, he didn’t yesterday. And he was a blocked tee shot on 17 away from making things very, very interesting.

It was an amazing performance. Again, I never thought I would see that guy in that position doing that ever again. For the first time in years, that red shirt on a Sunday in major wasn’t just a costume. It was the real deal. 

And he nearly did it. And the fact that he nearly did it tells you that he probably can do it again. That he really could come all the way back and win a major. But that doesn’t mean you should pencil him in for a major or three next year. Not with fields that include Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Patrick Reed, Jordan Spieth, and that’s just the Americans.  

And there’s no guarantee that his body won’t break down in some fluke range accident. He will be 43 in December. He’s had countless surgeries. His back or his neck or his knee or his Achilles could go at any minute. But what I saw yesterday was something I thought I would never see again. 

I also never thought I’d see him celebrate finishing in second the way that he did yesterday. The old Tiger would’ve been pissed beyond belief that he came that close and didn’t finish, but he was going all out after that birdie putt on 18 yesterday. 

And that leads me to another thing I never thought I’d see or say: is it possible that he’s actually likable now? Because in that post-round interview, he seemed almost likable. I seriously can’t believe I’m about to say this, but I almost like the guy.

Here’s the thing: we don’t know anyone and we certainly did not know Tiger the first time around, but I do almost like this guy. He seems different. He’s not surly, or robotic, or short with his answers. You’re not waiting for a wire to pop or a fuse to blow. He’s laughing, he genuinely seems to be enjoying things. And that’s enjoyable. 

But let’s pump the brakes on one thing. Tiger Woods winning another major would not be the greatest comeback in golf history. 

Ben Hogan was literally hit by a bus and came back to win six more majors. Bouncing your car of a tree and a fire hydrant is tame compared to getting wrecked by a bus, but it would still be an amazing comeback. And after what I saw yesterday, I can finally say, it’s possible. it could happen.