I’ve always found this as a somewhat sad time of year for us golf fans. I’m always bummed out knowing it’s going to be a while till we get a true full field event. We are all now chomping at the bit for April to roll around to get the full sensory overload that is Augusta National and The Masters. Granted we get the Ryder Cup this week which is awesome. I’m already making plans to find somewhere to watch the coverage at 2am in the morning, which normal people may define as crazy and they are absolutely right. Paris is sure to provide some exciting theater like only the Ryder Cup does, even though I find the location a bit odd, but who am I to question whoever makes that call. During a normal year this sadness would ensue for months, not this year! These feelings have been thrown out the window everyone and replaced with childhood amazement, the hands of time have been turned back, because the King has finally returned. It was a sight I have hoped to be able to see again for so long, to be captivated by a player coming down the stretch like I was as a kid just falling in love with the game. The man who blew me away as a child did it again and I’m 28 years old. Glued to the tv for every second on Sunday in Atlanta, saying to everyone else just like me watching at the bar “holy shit he’s gonna do it”. I couldn’t believe it, I was slamming my hand down on the bar with every birdie putt, hands covering my mouth when he was scrambling to make par, and praying he wouldn’t break all of our hearts again by folding down the stretch.
This past week was different from the start and we all could tell once he got it going. This was the Tiger that captivated me years ago, the reason why my first driver I had my parents buy me was the original blue Nike 460cc, and the second was the amazing frying pan that was the Nike Sasquatch. This is the man who inspired me to hit the stinger shots as low as I could and why I would see how close I could get to a tree and try to hit it over in my back yard with a flop shot, and HE’S BACK. Now I’m not going to lie, when I was younger and everyone asked who my favorite golfer was I never jumped straight to Tiger because I didn’t want to sound like everyone else, but I still had the red polo, the Nike gear, and knew he was the man. This guy made my generation of golfers who they are, regardless if you love him or hate him he made us the players we are because he made the game what it is. He made the game cool, inspired the Rorys and Rickies, made athletes want to play, was the fuel behind the arguments I had with my High School Librarian about how golfers are athletes, it’s the house that Tiger built and I knew he would be back. My predictions early this year were a bit more than he did, but I wasn’t far off. I said 2 wins and stuck by it all year, I didn’t think he would contend in the majors and I was very happy with how wrong I was. I just wanted to see the best to every play the game do what I watched so many times and this past Sunday I was a kid in a candy shop.
After everything that has happened in the guys life over these last few years I didn’t know if I’d ever get this chance again. I’m not saying I condone everything he has done, but I am a fan for how he plays the game so I have stayed a fan through all of it. I would get excited any time swings were posted on the internet, like catching glimpses a unicorn hoping he would evolve from a swing on youtube back to the man on top of the mountain dissecting the golf course and beating up on his opponents. We have patiently waited for him to get back from his sabbatical of being a soccer dad and start bombing it down the fairways once again, throwing darts at pins, and turning the PGA Tour back into a rock concert. I think David Duval said it best earlier this year when he said something along the lines of “all you young kids say you want to see Tiger do what Tiger did when he was at his best…NO YOU DON’T”. He flourishes in the fire, is comfortable in the chaos and it’s a wonder to observe. He will turn the game upside down once again if he gets back to who he was in the past, and the young players of today will without a doubt be dumbfounded. You could see it on Rory’s face walking up 18 fairway while he was trying to stay in front of the mob of thousands of people, he had to be thinking “I know what he has done but what in the hell is going on”. Tiger didn’t flinch, his stride didn’t change, he wasn’t glancing left and right looking for security. He had finally regained his thrown and because of that I think we are only in store for something unbelievably special in the years to come. We have seen players rise in a blaze of glory in the years of his absence, snagging the world number one for chunks of time here and there, but he is coming and he knows how to protect his castle once he takes it back. It was an unbelievable year for golf with so many great story lines, but in my eyes nothing even comes close to topping this. From roughly 1200th in the world to 13th in less than a year, 18 events with only 2 missed cuts, 7 top 10s, finished 2nd in the FedEx Cup, and FINALLY that 80th win. The comeback is complete without a doubt. I personally don’t think he needs to win a major to prove he is back because with the performances we have seen those are bound to come (I called them coming next year in one of my previous blogs). I know I’m not alone in my excitement, getting pumped up hearing the “Tiger” chants, seeing how much it meant to him, him saying “I almost cried coming down the fairway, then remembered I could still blade it out of bounds out of the bunker”, him walking all the way to scoring with that Scotty in his hands! It’s all absolutely amazing and I can’t wait for more! Now my only hope is we get a Tiger VS Rory match in the singles this weekend so we can see another head to head whooping and see that the Big Cat is really back!!!