Tiger Woods: Contender Again

by Jeff Skinner

So maybe Fred Couples actually knew what he was doing when he selected Tiger Woods for his Presidents Cup Team.  Many, like me, thought Couples was wrong in selecting Woods as there were many players that looked to be playing better than Tiger and deserved a spot.  Couples may have stolen a page form his counterpart on the International Team.  Greg Norman picked Adam Scott two years ago when Scott’s game was in the tank.  Even though Scott only managed one point for the week at The 2009 Presidents Cup it seemed to revitalize his game and he won the following year on both The PGA and The European Tour.

Tiger isn’t waiting for next year for his game to come around.  His play at The Emirates Australian Open may just be a preview that his real game isn’t that far off.  Woods played his best golf in a very long time.  He finished two strokes back of winner Greg Chalmers and his third place finish had to bring back memories of how things used to be for Tiger when he had his swing under control.

Woods looked liked the old Tiger, well for at least most of the tournament.  He was hitting the ball like the Tiger of old with stinger three woods, crisp irons and a deft short game.  He put together three very solid rounds, had the lead in the second and was as close as one stroke back during his back nine on Sunday.  With rounds of 68-67-75-67 Woods was more than just the main attraction for the Aussies.  He was a contender.  If not for a shaky putter in the third round (34 putts) Woods may have pulled off his long awaited comeback in one tournament.  “Two holes on the back nine today, and I putted awful yesterday,” Woods said. “Or I would have been right there.”

Woods and his fans have much to be excited about.  For most of the week he had his game.  But he is still going to need more “reps” as he says but if this week is any indication he is as close to “back” as he has ever been.

Just like the fans that came out to see him he was happy with his performance. “I felt great,” Woods said. “It’s nice to finally be healthy again.”  Woods realized that his Masters finish was the last time he contended.  “It’s been since Augusta, I had the lead at Augusta on Sunday, that’s the last time I’ve been in that spot,” Woods said. “It’s been a long time. Unfortunately I haven’t played a lot of tournaments in between. But it was great to be out there. I had a chance. Unfortunately, I didn’t post the number I wanted to post.”

Whatever your feelings on Tiger the fact remains: the game is more interesting when he plays well.  If he plays well at The Presidents Cup and this is the actual beginning of his resurgence then Fred Couples will look like a genius.  This past week Tiger showed what many have said, that he has too much skill and determination for him not to become a winner again.


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