By: Spencer Nixon
It was another exciting weekend for our boy Tiger that provided us plenty of reason to believe he might officially be “back”. The Arnold Palmer Invitational took place this past weekend with Tiger in search for his first tournament win since 2013 and his ninth career win at Bay Hill Golf Club. With back to back weekends of Tiger in contention come Sunday afternoon, I felt like I was back in 2008. I haven’t been this excited watching Tiger in quite some time and with the Masters just under a month away, the sky is the limit.
To say that Tiger has made strides in his game the past few weeks would be a severe understatement. Coming off four back surgeries since 2014, a DUI less than a year ago, and many other setbacks it is very encouraging to see Tiger on the course pain free and in contention.
Tiger said it best, “To be in contention, if you would have asked me at the beginning of the year that I would have had a chance to win two golf tournaments, I would have taken that in a heartbeat. Woods went on to say, “If I can play with no pain and I can feel like I can make golf swings I’ll figure it out. I’m starting to piece it together tournament by tournament and each tournament’s gotten a little crisper and a little bit better.”
Tiger made a late run in the tournament Sunday that had everyone in attendance shifting their attention to the former #1 player in the world. The impact of Tiger in contention on Sunday also had the internet buzzing, and people changing the channel to see if Tiger could work some magic. Unfortunately, Tiger placed tied for fifth, finishing 10 under par. Tiger would have had to play nearly perfect Sunday afternoon if he were to have a shot at winning, A few bogeys here and there and a few unfortunate rolls was really the difference. If Tiger is going to want to have any shot at winning the Masters, a tournament that he has won in the past, he is going to need a few rolls to go his way.
One highlight that really stuck out to me was Tiger draining a 71-foot putt that sent the crowd into a frenzy. Tiger has shown remarkable improvement in his short game which is imperative to his success in the future. If Tiger wants to win again, each part of his game is going to need to come together. In recent years, we have barely seen Tiger play. Now that he has been in tournaments two weeks in a row and he has been playing a lot more consistently without any pain, we will likely see his game come together even more than it already has because he is getting more practice in.
This is what needs to happen if Tiger wants to win the Masters:
1. He needs to play consistently. The Masters is one of the toughest tournaments in golf. With some of the world’s best golfers all competing in the same tournament, Tiger cannot afford to have an off round if he wants to hang with the world`s best.
2. He needs to have a level head. One of the aspects of Tiger`s game that made him so dominant in the past is that he rarely lost his composure. If Tiger misses a makeable putt or has a series of bad holes, he needs to make sure he keeps his composure. Recently we have seen Tiger self-erupt when he`s not playing well. This will only hurt his chances of winning.
3. He needs to be in the top three going into Sunday. I think it goes without saying that Tiger can`t afford to be too far behind the leader going into Sunday if he wants a shot at winning. Although we have seen him pull off comebacks in the past, Tiger hasn’t won in a long time and playing from behind on Sunday would make the degree of difficulty that much higher.
The bottom line is this. Tiger has exceeded expectations the past few weekends considering where he was just a few months ago. But he didn’t win either tournament. There is a reason why Vegas has Tiger as the favorite to win the Masters despite him not winning in years. He`s Tiger F***ing Woods, I don’t care that the guy hasn’t won in forever. Any tournament that he plays in he has a chance to win, regardless of how many screws he has in his back or how much older he`s getting. Give me Tiger in his red polo with a chance to win come Sunday afternoon of the Masters. That`s all I`m asking for, Golf needs it, America needs it, and I so desperately need one of my childhood idols to be great again.