For the past five seasons, everyone has asked the same question at the beginning of the PGA season: “Is Tiger back”?
I believe the answer may lie in the story of another athlete who lost time when his title was removed. In 1967, Muhammad Ali was stripped of his heavyweight Professional Boxing title because of his protest against the Vietnam War, refusing to serve because of his religious beliefs, and his eventual prosecution as a draft dodger. Fighting for almost four years, he eventually returned to the ring, after a favorable decision by the Supreme Court.
Although he would fight two of the greatest matches in history against George Foreman, called the “Rumble in the Jungle,” and the legendary, “Thrilla in Manila,” defeating Joe Frazier, he was never as fast, never as quick again. Four years had cost him a great deal, physically.
Tiger appeared to have lost his dominance, thanks to some personal mistakes that cost him more important things than golf. The 2012 season saw him win three tournaments, but no majors. He was in the running for the FedEx Cup, but couldn’t finish on the weekend.
He is playing in his first PGA event this week, the “2013 Farmer’s Insurance Open” at Torrey Pines in north San Diego county. On Thursday he shot a 68, 4 under par. He finished Friday with a 65, giving him a total of 11 under par, and 3 strokes ahead of the second name on the leaderboard. His only “bad” hole was his next-to-last. He bogeyed his 17th hole of the day. The question is: How well will he play on the weekend? In 2012, he had trouble with the final 36 holes.
He’s driving accurately, and is second in distance for the first two days. His short game, especially bunker shots, has been extraordinary. His putting is good, but with the day having continuous rainfall, he left several short.
I hope he’s back. I am fond of watching several on the tour, but Tiger and McIlroy continue to give me the most opportunities to say “Wow.” Besides, there’s no football this weekend, unless you’re one of the very few who watch the “Pro-Bowl.”
Columnist-The Guardian Express