He’s back! Okay, so it wasn’t exactly vintage Tiger yesterday during his first round at Congressional, where he’s hosting the Quicken Loans National. But it was nice to see him out on the course again following a nearly four-month layoff from back surgery. We sure missed the fireworks he brings to the game.
Tiger in Contention
It never gets old. When Tiger’s in the hunt, his presence is electrifying. Just ask the competition, which used to wilt at the mere sight of him on Sunday. His fist pumps, explosive roars, twirl of the club after a perfect shot, the thousand-yard stare—we miss the whole repertoire. So do PGA Tour officials and TV executives.
With Tiger on the sidelines, his quest to equal or surpass Jack Nicklaus’s 18 major professional championships and Sam Snead’s record 82 PGA Tour victories is now back on. Who knows if he'll ever catch Jack, let alone surpass him, in majors, but with 79 regular Tour wins, there's no doubt he'll pass Snead, which will become like Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak in 1941: unbreakable.
Lindsey Vonn in the Gallery
She’s the country’s greatest skier ever who’s easy on the eyes, to boot. He’s arguably the best golfer ever. Is there a bigger power couple in sports?
Tiger, golf’s greatest front-runner, patented the classic red shirt, black paints, black shoes assassin’s outfit. It just doesn’t look the same on Patrick Reed. Or Rocco Mediate, who wore the same colors in the 2008 U.S. Open playoff, to no avail.
No, not from the fire hydrant. From the rough. The woods. The bunkers. The desert. From nearly any impossible situation that no mere mortal could ever recover from. For Tiger, there is no jail. There is only a way out.
It takes a fertile imagination, a big commitment, and cool weather to don a tiger suit, paint your face like a big jungle cat, and join the gallery behind the ropes to watch the former No. 1 player in the world in action. Tigers are solitary by nature, but we missed seeing packs of them at tournaments.
Tiger was the star of Nike’s ad campaign. Early on, he was convincing as Carl Spackler, the slack-lipped superintendent in Caddyshack, and even better tutoring Rory McIlroy, another Nike staffer, on the finer points of the game. We even miss him as a well-meaning Dick’s Sporting Goods employee.
Ever since he limped away from Torrey Pines with the U.S. Open trophy in 2008, golf fans have been besieged with analysis by pundits about What’s Wrong with Tiger. Swing gurus from Haney to Harmon have weighed in. So have TV broadcasters from Chamblee to Miller. It’s almost like a cottage industry itself.
The non-answers Tiger provides to reporters in post-round press conferences, especially at the majors, are almost comical. Tiger can give a thoughtful, well-reasoned answer to a golf-related question—if he’s in the mood. Personal inquiries are usually met with an icy glare.
Actually, we don’t miss those. Or the spitting. Maybe Tiger 2.0 will care more what people think…Nah!