For better or worse, we re-discovered
last week that one of the great sports within the sport of golf is still Tiger-watching.
The return of Woods to the professional
scene in Ohio – after months of rumor,
mystery, innuendo and enough speculation
to fill a thousand thumb drives – was at
once fast-paced and a slow reveal.
Tuesday at the WGC-Bridgestone,
Woods showed up in the press room and
gave us a quick fix of Tiger-speak. His ball-
striking, he said, was producing nice, tight
What he didn’t elaborate on was the
growth on his chin. As hirsute proclivities
go, it wasn’t as shocking (pun intended) as
Ryo Ishikawa’s new haircut. It was more
like the kind of soul patch crime writer
Elmore Leonard used to describe as a
“little be-bop growth.” Were there un-
speakable tattoos lurking under Tiger’s
fancy Nike duds? Who knows who knows?
But this much was certain: The Tiger
Woods who had us at “Hello, world” 15
years ago had our full attention again.
On Wednesday, former Woods running
mate Charles Barkley went on a New York
radio show and hammered Woods, adding,
“I’m confused as to where he’s going.”
The answer was Akron and Firestone
Country Club, where the rubber of Tiger’s
latest comeback was about to meet the
road to his athletic future.
Thursday morning’s Wall Street Jour-
nal brought a headline that proclaimed,
“Breaking Up Is Hard To Do.” And it was
more about Woods and his erstwhile
relationship with golf followers than it was
about his divorce from wife Elin or his split
with caddie Stevie.
Tiger’s Return More Sizzle Than Steak
“birdies” and “bogeys.”
Look out, world: Tiger As Brat was still
alive and well, too.
You may have lost all respect for Woods
in the past two years. Or you may still be
one of his unconditionally loving fans. But
of this there can be no debate: The cut
3-wood second shot he carved from the
right rough that rocketed miles up the long
16th fairway was glorious and painlessly
“Smoked it,” Woods said.
This was all quite delicious. There were
still three more rounds to be played. And
bubbling up from just beneath the surface
was a sub-plot straight out of a Dan Jen-
The 18-hole leader at 8-under 62 was
Aussie Adam Scott, who still swings like
Woods used to and now employs the jilted
and sneering Williams as his caddie.
Alas, rust, notably absent in Round One,
scratched its way to the surface Friday in
the form of erratic putting and dodgy distance control. Woods acknowledged both
after a 71 left him well back in the pack.
But what he didn’t and wouldn’t ever admit
was that an experienced Williams on the
bag might have talked him off of a few key
wrong club selections.
By the end of Saturday, a dodgy 72 left
Woods 13 shots behind leader Steve Williams ... er ... Adam Scott. The magic that
has defined his career was missing.
“I’m not other players,” Woods had said
curtly, when asked Friday if he might be
better off lowering his expectations until
his body completely heals the way other
players do when they come back from