Tiger Woods won his 80th P.G.A. Tour event this last weekend. That is what the history books will record; it doesn’t tell of one of the greatest comebacks in sport.
Only 11 months ago, Woods seemed a spent force at age 41, his official World Ranking was 1,100. Plagued by multiple spinal injuries and knee surgeries, it seemed an unfitting end for one of the greatest golfers in the game’s history. Today, he ranks 13th in the World Rankings!
What happened at East Lake was the stuff of fiction and fairy tales – Tiger had qualified through the Fedex Cup playoff stages, to join the last 30 in the Tour Players Championship. All the young pretenders were their except for the notable absence of Jordan Spieth, who missed the final 30 at the Players by a shot.
Tiger’s comeback was not like a boxer, who has to beat one opponent at a time. No, that would be too straightforward. Woods has to overcome the eclectic best of over 140 competitors, all of whom are capable of winning. An example of which was Y E Yang’s victory over Tiger in the U.S.P.G.A. Championship – a relatively unknown player who chose that week to play the best golf of his life.
Like a King returning from exile, to resume his rightful place, enveloped by tens of thousands of spectators on East Lake’s 18th Hole. The supreme talent of Bobby Jones, who graced the fairways at East Lake, created similar scenes at St. Andrews in the late 1920’s. Only the departed “King of Golf”, the late great Arnold Palmer has generated such frenzy at a golf tournament in modern times.
Tiger survived a childhood as bizarre as that of Michael Jackson to live out a story that is still to be completed. Jack Nicklaus, whose Major haul of wins is the driving force behind Tiger’s desire to return and conquer, was rather unfit when he won his last Major at Augusta aged 46 – a fit Woods will be able to compete into his mid fifties if his heath sustains. What price now, of Tiger Woods winning 4 Majors in the next 6 to 8 years?
Woods doesn’t push the needle in world golf – he is the needle!
- A child prodigy, appearing on national T.V. aged 8.
- He grew up to dominate like Bjorn Borg.
- He transcends golf – he is recognised globally like Mohamed Ali.
- He imploded and fell to pieces like George Best, yet recovered.
- He has returned from injury, as did Mr. Hogan.
- Regained respect from his peers.
- He has re-built his swing; one that doesn’t jeopardise his spine or knee.
- His putting stats are #1.
- His iron play reigns supreme.
- He now is hitting Fairways.
I am old enough to remember seeing Nicklaus, Borg, Ali and Best, live and on T.V. The story Tiger Woods is living out, is easily the match of all those. So, be glad you lived in Tiger’s era – enjoy him whilst he’s here and pray he stays alive and fit, in order to write that final page!
Booby Jones St Andrews
Tiger Woods East Lake