The sun is shining on golf again. Tiger Woods is back swinging for real. He is competing for the first time since his now legendary win in the US Open last summer. That stunning victory, in America’s most important tournament came as he played with a torn ACL in his knee and fractured bones in his leg. No one who watched him last June will likely forget how he literally limped around the golf course in obviously excruciating pain and still willed himself to win.
Golf fans like my buddy Alan who writes The Sporting Life from the nation’s bad news capital of Detroit, are celebrating Tiger’s return like they would a new infusion of cash at General Motors. That kind of excitement is justified. There is no bigger deal in golf than Tiger Woods.
Despite an eight-month recovery from his injuries, Tiger said yesterday that he “felt like nothing had changed.” Adding that “it was business as usual.” The results from day one of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship certainly bear that out. Tiger easily tamed first-round opponent Brendan Jones three and two. And it certainly looked like Tiger was no longer hurting.
Now that Tiger’s back in what appears to be top form, perhaps better than ever, how do you think his fellow golfers feel, knowing their chances of winning have diminished considerably? Believe it or not actually I think they’re happy. Not that they like losing of course. But Tiger’s peers certainly understand that golf actually means something again. The fact is when Tiger’s away most folks care less what happens each week.
Check it out for yourself. No Tiger = lower ratings. No Tiger = nervous sponsors. No Tiger for too long = less money for everyone. I can assure you that Tiger’s golf buddies know exactly who provides their bread and butter.
Will Tiger win the tournament? I’ll just say history suggests he has a better chance than anyone else. The record book says he has 30 more career wins than his nearest rivals Phil Mickelson and Vijay Singh. And even if he doesn’t hold up the trophy on Sunday, yesterday’s return made it pretty obvious that it won’t be long before he does.