Saturday, February 11, 2012
The Tiger Comeback Has to Come Here
There are a lot of amazing, incredible, preposterous, make-your-jaw-hit-the-ground things that Tiger Woods has done over his career, but the amazing thing is a lot of them come full circle. The year Woods won his first major, a runaway at the Masters, he turned a horrible front nine into an incredible back nine to start the week and get his career going in a path nobody in the golf world had ever seen. His putt at TPC Sawgrass' famous 17th, winding and meandering towards the hole, was the same green that saw the first real Tiger fist pump, when he won his first U.S. Amateur in 1994. His wins at St. Andrews were both so similar it was scary, and it seemed anytime he showed up at Firestone the rest of the field might as well withdraw because their chances had disappeared.
But the one thing Tiger has struggled with in his career is coming back. No, it isn't just in his rehabilitation or personal life, I'm actually talking about on the golf course. The scouting report on Tiger was simple; when he had a lead, he'd win, and when he didn't, he'd lose.
That, of course, wasn't true when Woods won at Pebble Beach in 2000, the only time he walked away from the famous Pro-Am the victor. Tiger trailed by seven shots at one point on Sunday before he roared back, highlighted by a hole-out eagle on the 15th that showed a very similar fist pump to the one Tiger produced at TPC in '94.
But for the Tiger comeback (the actual one where he comes back from poor finishes and missed opportunities and a career that has hit the skids like nobody would have predicted), it has to come here. This is the sight of Tiger's greatest comeback, and one of the best of all time. This is the place he ran away from the field at arguably the greatest display of golf ever, when he won the U.S. Open by 15 shots. This is the most iconic golf course in the world, and he isn't just on a stage to win, but he's paired with Phil Freakin' Mickelson to top it off, the rival that we all mounted Tiger up against for all these years, fair or not.
It isn't just a great position, it is a perfect position. Four and one shot(s) back of some very Matt Gogel-y types that will have to deal with big crowds shifting as their hitting balls and putting out, Tiger isn't as much playing the competition as he is playing history.
What happens if Tiger can't make a comeback on Sunday at Pebble? Nothing really. It is just another missed opportunity to get that elusive PGA Tour win against more than a handful of players. But this opportunity, set for Sunday at Pebble Beach, is one ready for the history books. I just hope Tiger is ready to be the man again. I know we are.