Tiger Woods

USA Today


Nothing but respect for Tiger.

September 24, 2018 - 10:17 am

September 23, 2018. Write it down. Because that was the day Eldrick Woods recorded his first win in more than five years. And it was big. Not Tiger Woods Winning a Major big, but it was still big. How big?

Lori Loughlin from Full House was tweeting about it: Welcome back Tiger Woods. We’ve missed you! Congratulations!!! #tigerwoods #tourchampionship

When Uncle Jesse’s gal is tweeting about you, you know you’re killing the game. With respect, I don’t remember DJ Tanner tweeting when Dustin Johnson won. And I don’t remember Jason Day getting any love from Kimmy Gibbler. 

But that shows you just how big Tiger is and what he means not just to golf, but to sports in general. It was like everywhere you look, everywhere you go, there was someone tweeting about or talking about Tiger. 

And normally, after a huge tournament win, I would talk about a couple of the key holes, the shots that made the difference, but that’s the thing about yesterday, there weren’t any of those. 

Because Eldrick did what Tiger used to do – turn a Saturday lead into a Sunday coronation. And he absolutely had to do that again yesterday. Came in with a three shot lead and if he blew that, you can forget about him ever winning again. Blow that three shot lead and he would’ve shattered into a thousand pieces, but he didn’t.

Instead, he dropped a birdie on one that gave him a four shot lead over Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose and it was over. That was vintage Tiger. He broke Rose’s spirit on Saturday with six birdies in seven holes and then broke Rory right out of the gate on Sunday. 

After opening with a birdie on one, Tiger didn’t have another until the back nine. Because he didn’t need to. A lot has changed in his life since he got win number 79, but win number 80 was the closest to what Old Tiger used to be like. Taking a lead, holding it, and slowly choking out the rest of the field. 

And a bunch of you Tiger bros were probably sobbing into your red polos and fist pumping in your living rooms, screaming “get in the hole” while wiping away tears. Good for you. Have a good time. 

Just don’t tell me you saw it coming. Don’t try to come in here and tell me you knew this day would come all along. Because nobody did. Not back in the day. Not in the darkest moments. Not when he was missing putts and missing cuts. Not when a withdrawal was as likely as a Sunday showing. Not when he was a mess of a player with a busted back and a serious case of the chip yips. 

As Nick Faldo tweeted: Many congrats to Tiger Woods. I was one of many who didn’t see this happening again! Your sheer determination, willpower, rekindled skills (fade) and nerve in your pursuit for victory yet again is Legendary! #Incredible

He’s right. Because nobody did see this happening again. Not even Tiger himself, who said after the round was over: “I was beyond playing. I couldn’t sit. I couldn’t walk. I couldn’t lay down without feeling the pain in my back and my leg … This is how the rest of my life is going to be? It’s going to be a tough rest of my life.”

It sure looked that way. But he turned it around. And as this year went on, it became more and more clear that it was only a matter of time before he got his first win. He had the driver back and the putter back. You red-shirted bros get absolutely zero credit for calling that shot. He was on the verge of breaking through and he did. And it’s impressive. It’s a remarkable comeback. 

But let’s not let the emotion of yesterday get us too carried away. Let’s pump the brakes a little on the greatest comeback in the history of the word. It might not even be the greatest comeback in the history of golf. This isn’t Ben Hogan coming back from being hit by a bus.

This isn’t Tiger coming back from running his rig into a fire hydrant and then a tree. Or a tree and then a fire hydrant. And going to sleep in the street. He made that comeback before, back when he was the best in the world again in 2013, but then it all fell apart for a second time. Since then, there were injuries and surgeries, sure, and don’t forget that weird pic of him with the busted teeth in 2015, but there was also the DUI, which while it may have been a cry for help, was also dangerous as hell

But he came back. When it seemed nearly impossible. When he seemed past it, he managed to come back and do it against the most talented fields he’s ever played against. Respect. He’s earned it. 

And earned it one of the hardest ways possible. Back when he couldn’t sit and couldn’t walk, he could’ve chucked it all in, but he didn’t. Nobody would’ve blamed him if he retired to his mansions and his yacht and spent time with his kids. But he didn’t. He took the hard road back. He went through one embarrassing and painful round after another and he made it. Respect. Nothing but respect.  

If he didn’t finish yesterday, this cat was never winning another tournament, much less a major. But now with this win, and the fact that he finished the way he did, now, anything is possible.