By Keysha Hogan
Recently at the Doral Golf Resort and Spa, Tiger Woods won and moved up to 4-to-1 odds to triumph at next month’s Masters in Augusta. Crowds suffered a serious case of deja vu as golf balls compliantly did his bidding, as they had early in his career. The day ended with yet another 54-hole lead and another 76th PGA Tour title. Since the World Golf Championship series began in 1999, he was won 43% of the tournaments. Statisticians put his career win percentage at 27%, which is the best in history by a long shot.
This win could just be another step in his long journey back to the top. But actually this victory is the latest brick in the reconstruction of his iconic name, game and reputation after his life took a turn in 2009. After his ACL injury and problems with his Achilles, a parade of women passed through his life to ::ahem:: help him cope.
The unsung hero of this win is actually the man who came in second. Back on March 6th, Steve Stricker called Tiger over a little putting lesson. Less than an hour of adjusting his stance and buddy-buddy coaching and Tiger’s game was transformed. He went out there and had 100 putts in only four rounds. His putting game was exactly where it had been, and Stricker somehow become the most generous competitor that’s ever lived who is also on everyone else’s $#!* list for unleashing the beast.
His putting stroke and swing are sending a message to everyone in the field. He will be working to sew together a patchwork of sustained greatness. ESPN’s Bob Harig says this win, “…doesn’t mean he will win the Arnold Palmer Invitational in two weeks or the Masters next month. The game is too fickle, too unpredictable, too maddening to make those kinds of assumptions. But it is impressive nonetheless.” First off, haters gonna hate. Secondly, it’s important to keep a level head and not become fanatical over this latest win, but his past dominance feels like a foreshadowing of something incredible next month.
Robert Lusetich over at Fox Sports says, “Woods seems finally at a point where he’s thinking less about mechanics when he plays. The endless rehearsal swings are gone and his confidence in what he’s doing is obvious as he hits different shapes at different trajectories.” We’ve all heard players repeat how much them improve when they can get out of their heads and enjoy the game, and Tiger seems to be doing just that.
From here it seems that as Tiger has healed and put his personal life in order, his game has improved day by day. Instead of drowning in the technical details of the game, he relaxed and allowed the game to flow. And his march back to the Masters will reach a fever-pitch of interests for fans and casual observers because when he wins the sport itself is on front page of papers and more relevant.