Feeling The Tug Of Tiger’s Gravity
All right, all you Tiger fans grab that
end of the rope and all you haters grab the
other end. At the count of three, start pulling and let’s see where we get.
Chances are, the rope is not going to
move much in either direction but we
do know that the needle is moving again
and that’s thanks to Woods’ winning the
Memorial Tournament two weeks ago. It’s
been said that Tiger not only moves the
needle but he is the needle, and there’s a
great deal of truth in that.
Everyone wants to know if Woods is
really back this time, but it doesn’t matter
if he has returned to where he was in 2000
or 2005 or ’06. He’s back in the serious
conversation and that’s what really counts.
Golf is in a much better place when
he’s in the mix and, like him, love him or
none of the above, professional golf and
Tiger Woods go together like grass and
fertilizer because one needs the other to
be of its highest use.
The U.S. Open is this week and no one
is being careful to talk in whispers as to
whether Woods can be a factor at The
Olympic Club. Because, remember that he
won at Bay Hill in March and stunk up the
place at The Masters the next month in his
When Woods won the Arnold Palmer Invitational, it looked like everyone else kind
of moved out of his way on a brutal weekend on a tough course. No one challenged
him in the least. At the Memorial, he birdied three of his last four holes on Sunday –
including the miracle pitch-in at the par- 3
16th to snatch the title for his own.
And therein lies the difference. It’s exactly why Woods is at least one giant step
out of the woods as far as his golf game is
concerned. Will he appear on the leaderboard at Olympic? Only he knows and he’s
not entirely certain, at least not yet.
Tiger 3.0 or 4.0 or whatever he is at
the moment is not new and improved. At
best, he’s a reclamation project. Woods
spent three years at the lowest point of
his career, personally and professionally.
Through the injuries and the rebuilding of
his golf game, he has endured the slings
and arrows of outrageous fortune and is
on the verge of coming out on the other
end. Whether he’s a better player and/or a
better person is not readily apparent. But
say this much: He is different.
All this time, he has been questioned
and second- and third-guessed by everyone
who knows anything about golf and even
by some who know nothing about golf. Why
he would so radically change his swing was
not understood by most. And why in the
world would instructor Sean Foley change
Tiger’s short game when he was the best
player around the greens maybe ever.
Absolutely no one fathomed that.
Tiger’s endless mantra was that he
needed reps (to work on his “traj”) and that
hitting balls on the range wasn’t nearly
enough for him to get comfortable with
his new action. But he wasn’t playing that
much more on Tour. In fact, if you’ll notice,
almost half of his 73 Tour victories are on
five courses – seven at Bay Hill (Arnold
Palmer Invitational), seven at Torrey Pines
(Farmers Insurance Open, U.S. Open),
seven at Firestone Country Club (WGC-
Bridgestone Invitational) five at Doral
(WGC-Cadillac Championship) and five at
Muirfield Village (Memorial Tournament).
The naysayers don’t have to be convinced
just yet but they must be reconsidering or
at least wondering.
The believers continue believing and
the tug-of-war continues in earnest. l