The time has come to finally say it, yes he’s (almost) back. Apparently in more ways than one?
Yesterday, Tiger won his 77th PGA Tour Victory at Bay Hill and reclaimed the Number 1 Spot in the Official World Golf Rankings. With only 5 career wins left to eclipse Sam Snead, on the career title list, which could happen as early as this year, things are pretty comfortable with Tiger’s uhm, golf game and such.
Anyway, it’s not so much that he won yesterday, it’s how he’s been winning recently. Yes, Tiger’s flushing shots throughout the bag and putting like the savant that he is. It’s not just that, it’s more about how the competition is handling Tiger’s play.
Intimidation is back and this is and has been the key to his wild success.
For the last 3 years, the PGA Tour competition hasn’t been scared, particularly the young competition. However, times have changed and two of the PGA Tour’s brightest stars wilted under the intense heat yesterday and another wilted on Saturday morning.
Keegan Bradley, Ricky Fowler and Justin Rose all succumbed to Tiger’s roar over the last two rounds. Rose missed short left to right putt after left to right putt to fall out of the top spot on the leader board on Saturday. Bradley missed putt after putt, short, during the final round and Ricky dunked two in the water late in the day on Sunday, including a routine 80 yard wedge that wasn’t close. Pressure has a way of resurrecting demons and exposing weakness.
Being Number One
Not only are these fine young players finding incredible difficulty dealing with Tiger’s big leads, many of the world’s most prominent players are having a very hard time dealing with the World’s Top Spot.
Yani Tseng said publicly that “it’s lonely at the top” and has been in a tail-spin for over a year after appearing to be in firm control coming into 2012.
Rory found it very hard to sit atop the rankings with the constant media attention and questions about equipment and love life ripped into his golf swing.
Luke Donald, Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer sat on top for a very short period of time during Tiger’s absence.
Over the last 15 months Tiger has gone from south of 50th in the world and almost missing his own event at the end of 2011 to numero uno by winning 6 of the last 20 events he has entered.
He’s won 3 of the 5 events he’s entered this year and all the wins came against the strongest available fields. Three victories so far in 2012…and it’s March!
Chasing Sam Snead
It has become an absolute certainty that Tiger will take one of the most coveted records in golf history when he wins his 83rd PGA tour event. A record which was somehow diminished during the modern era where Majors are the barometer for success in championship golf. Jack Nicklaus is the one pointed to when the discussion about that record comes up, many blame Jack for personally smearing that record in favor of his own record of 18 Professional Majors.
I’m not so sure that Jack is really to blame here. Does he talk about Majors with great reverence? Yes, but Tiger himself is probably the real culprit.
Tiger, the ball is in your court and since you have made such a big deal of the Majors proclaiming that “it’s not a great year without a Major” it’s time to get it done and soon.
I have never wavered from the position that Tiger will win 19 Majors, has it looked like a tough hill to climb over the last 2 years? Obviously, but my thoughts on this are simple. Tiger is reaching peak physical condition right now with injuries behind him and a new swing which was designed to prolong his career. Pure physical condition will be enough.
Jack won his last Major at age 46, Tiger is only 37 right now.
Tiger has 36 Majors prior to the time he reaches age 46. Would you seriously bet against Tiger winning 5 of the next 36 Major Championships? I don’t think it’s an unreasonable prediction that Tiger can win 5 of the next 16.
However, I do agree with the skeptics that if it is to be, then it better be soon.
As an overly interested bystander, the hairs on the back of my neck stand up when they run those Masters commercials with the distinctive jingle and the immaculate Augusta National grounds screaming: Spring is Here!
I’m also positive that the hairs stand at attention for the entire Masters Field, with the exception of one, Number One. There may have been a time when Tiger’s hairs stood as well. That time could have been as recent as last year. However, I’m pretty sure that Tiger’s sense this year is more likely that of deep focus.
He knows that the only way he can really be back is to go on a Major run, but the next one will always be the most important one.
The Masters just so happens to be the next one and I don’t really care what happens between now and then, Tiger is firmly planted in the spot of favorite.
Will Tiger reach the top of the mountain he’s been climbing his entire life? Yes, but, as you know “it’s a process”. Just ask him.