Stop me if this sounds familiar: Tiger Woods wins the Arnold Palmer Invitational, his third win this season, and is the number one ranked golfer in the world. Oh, you’ve heard that before? Yes, we all have. It was the refrain for more than a decade until Woods’ self-inflicted fall in late 2009. With his sixth win in his last twenty PGA TOUR starts, and eighth win in sixteen professional starts at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Woods regained the perch atop the golf world that he held for 623 weeks between 1997 and 2009. And now he’s back… (Wait, we’re not starting THAT silly debate!) Okay, now he’s back TO NUMBER ONE IN THE WORLD. After falling as far as 58th in 2011 and going winless on TOUR for about two and a half years, Tiger is back has returned to show everyone that the rumors of his demise were grossly exaggerated.
Tiger has turned that last 12 months into a comeback tour. He’s playing the hits and looking just like the guy who dominated golf from 97-09. Since his win at Bay Hill last March Tiger has played and won in a fashion reminiscent of the mid-2000s. He won the Memorial for the fifth time, holing a classic flop shot on the 70th hole. He won his own AT&T National for the second time with an incredible hooked iron shot that literally wrapped his nine iron around a tree. In January he won the Farmers Insurance Open for the seventh time, and an eighth overall win at Torrey Pines. A few weeks ago he captured his seventh WGC-Cadillac Championship and fourth win at Doral. That week, thanks to a 45-minute lesson with Steve Stricker, Tiger’s putting finally came around to remind that, oh yeah, this guys makes EVERYTHING. Woods took 100 putts FOR THE WEEK at Doral. This past week he captured his eighth Arnold Palmer Invitational in 16 professional starts at Bay Hill (so if you’re scoring at home, that’s 50%…I have no words to describe his record at Bay Hill, and I’m a writer). Woods needed a mere 102 putts for the week and his scrambling was impeccable.
To recap: Tiger is winning at his favorite haunts, he is putting like he did at his peak, his Sean Foley golf swing has come together, he’s getting up-and-down from everywhere, and he’s bombing his driver again. Woods’ last year has played like a comeback concert from your favorite band. They play all their greatest hits and it sounds just like you remember it. The lead singer has all the charisma that drew you in from the beginning, the guitarist is shredding his great solos and the drummer is nailing every fill exactly the way you heard it as you drummed on the steering wheel of your car (or maybe that was just me).
Now the concert has come to the finale. There’s the one, THE ONE, epic anthem that defines the band. Their greatest hit, the one that you crank the volume up and sing as loud as you can. You know it from the first note and it sends chills up your spine.
Tiger Woods has the golf world in this very situation. We’ve seen him win 30% of his starts in the last year, he’s putted like he can’t miss, and he even seems to have the old aura of intimidation about him. Now he comes to the finale. Televised to the world LIVE from the Augusta National Golf Club the second weekend in April. We’re all waiting for Tiger to play his greatest hit, with a green jacket on. He has set the world up for this. I can’t wait for him to take the stage.