Saturday, August 14, 2010
A Back Nine That Could Propel Tiger
As far as major championships go in 2010, not a lot of positive has been pulled from for Tiger Woods. Sure, he opened with a 4-under 68 at the Masters, the first time he had ever broke 70 in the opening round at Augusta National, but the rest of the week seemed like an uphill climb despite the top-five finish. At the U.S. Open, Tiger shot a third round 66 that got him right in the hunt, but it didn't help much when he couldn't find the hole on Sunday at Pebble Beach. At the British Tiger had hardly anything good to take away, but here we are at Whistling Straits.
In a year that seemed molded for a Tiger Woods Grand Slam, the question mark was Whistling. He didn't play that well here in 2004, and he struggles on target-style golf courses. But we all missed something that was looking is straight in the eye. Whistling is a par-72. Tiger LOVES par-72s. Ten of his 14 major championship wins have come on par-72s, and for some reason, it appears the addition of a couple of par-5s helps Tiger's game stay controlled.
On the front nine in his second round, it seemed Tiger might miss the cut (I even got an e-mail about the possibility and if I was going to write something up about it). But, something changed. The delay into Saturday helped in the sense of working out some of the kinks, but Tiger's 3-under 33 on the back nine to move him to 3-under for the tournament might be the most impressive thing he's done all year. It was the first time in 2010 that Tiger actually did something Tiger-y; posting a score when you absolutely need one.
I'm not going to say that I think Tiger has a great shot at vaulting up the leaderboard on Moving Day, but he is finally in a position that we are used to seeing. Tiger's normal attack mode kicks in on the weekends, and if he can string together a number similar to that in the third round at Pebble Beach, we may be seeing him near the last group come Sunday.
Just know that if he is near the last few, it's because of this nine holes. It was Tiger finally, finally, finally being Tiger for a change. And I like it.