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The Buzz on Tiger Woods

From just about the moment he joined the PGA Tour. (he turned pro in August 1996 and go his first PGA Tour victory at the Las Vegas Invitational in October 1996) Tiger Wood’s career unfolded in an unerringly forward path. Of increasingly more wins, higher earnings and even greater speculation about whether he is the best golfer ever.

Unfortunately for Tiger, for the PGA, for golf’s popularity, for golf fans everywhere and, well, for just about anything to do with golf. Once that career started hitting some bumps, starting with injuries Woods suffered in 2008, the trajectory has almost completely reversed. With the exception of a couple good seasons in 2012 and 2013, Woods has been off the leaderboards, inconsistent in his play and, generally, uninspiring. Couple that with the almost simultaneous unraveling of his personal life. Today instead of wondering if he’s the best-ever, you can’t be blamed for wondering what else can go wrong.

But, if you’re a real fan of the game, both as a player and watching a great match on TV, you probably wonder something else too. Actually, it’s more of a hope rather than a wonder. You remember all of the edge-of-your-seat moments Tiger gave us, the seemingly impossible approaches landing in eagle range, the putts that seemed to carry for hours, over hill and dale, never knowing it was going to sink until it did. (OK – we gotta bring up the fact that perhaps Tiger’s most amazing approach shot was right here in the GTA at the 2000 Bell Canadian Open at Glen Abbey. If you haven’t seen what he did after landing in a fairway bunker on the 18th hole, over 200 yards, and a water hazard, from the pin, check it out here.

Those memories are what give you hope. Hope that you can once again live moments like those. And it all comes down to the question “will Tiger be able to compete, at least in a couple tournaments, like he did before and show us glimpses of his brilliance as a golfer?

Is This the Year of the Tiger?

Early in January, the golf news was abuzz once again with the news that Tiger is back from yet another surgery. But we’ve heard it all before. Like last year when Wood’s hoped-for return was once again sidelined with more back surgery, his fourth since 2014.

With the approach of the Farmers Insurance Open, which ran from January 24 to 28 at Torrey Pines, (where Tiger won the 2008 U.S. Open after a 19-hole playoff against Rocco Mediate), media speculation was running wild about Woods’ chances for yet another comeback, this time after back-fusion surgery last April.

If you managed to catch any of the tournament on TV, the first thing you would have noticed is that Woods hasn’t lost any of his ability to attract a crowd. Never in the history of golf have so many been so interested in a player so low in the rankings. Before the tournament, Woods’ world ranking was 668, which is up from 1,199 after his performance in December’s Hero World Challenge. A performance that fueled much of the pre-tournament buzz around Tiger.

So, how’d he do?

On paper, not bad, as Tiger Woods’ comebacks go. Tiger finished the tournament at -3, tied for 23rd, one shot ahead of Canadian Corey Conners. Woods might have even been a shot better if not for an enthusiastic fan who shouted ‘get in the hole’ in the middle of Tiger’s back swing for a birdie putt.

Following the tournament, the media pundits seem to agree that there’s more reason for optimism in this return of the Tiger than the previous comeback tries. While there were signs of the wince-inducing struggles he’s faced in recent years, there were at least as many signs of the sheer brilliance, confidence and power (with at least one wind-aided shot approaching the 350 mark) that was almost enough to make you feel nostalgic

No one knows if Tiger will finally return to some form similar to what we all remember. But, so far so good, and that means it’ll be a lot more fun to watch any early-season tournaments that Tiger enters. They could be historic.

Royal Ashburn

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