by Jeff Skinner
Once again Tiger Woods has proved to the world just how different he is. It’s Tiger’s World and the rest of the PGA Tour is just living in it.
Woods prevailed over a top notch, but fading field at The Players Championship and earned his second Players Championship and 78th PGA Tour win.
Tiger had played a very strategic and solid round going into the fourteenth hole. Using fairway woods and irons off most tees he fashioned a two stroke lead over Sergio Garcia, David Lingmerth and Jeff Maggert. And then he made what he called his only bad swing of the day.
Woods pop hooked his tee ball into the water left of the fourteenth fairway and could only manage a double bogey. With that score he went from being in control of The Players to falling into a four way tie with Garcia, Maggert and Lingmerth. In a very un-Tiger-like move he had opened a door for his challengers. But this is where Woods differentiated himself from his pursuers today.
With the lead in sight the others wilted while Woods blossomed. Maggert, who at 49 would have been the oldest Players Champion in history, rinsed his ball at the game changing 17th. Sergio Garcia did his Roy McAvoy imitation with two horrible shots into the water at the 17th. Only Lingmerth stood up to the challenge of seventeen with a great shot (or a good miss) to ten feet past the hole. But he couldn’t sink the birdie putt and still trailed Woods by a shot going into eighteen.
This is where Tiger separated himself from his followers. While they were stumbling to the finish he shook off the double bogey at fourteen and focused on a good finish. He birdied sixteen and then using great lag putts made par on seventeen and eighteen to finish at thirteen under par.
He played the last three holes at one under par. Lingmerth was even par over the closing three but couldn’t tie Woods with a birdie at eighteen. Maggert was one over par on the finishing stretch. Sergio stumbled and bumbled home losing five strokes over the last three. And had to listen to jeers from the crowd while doing it.
Woods showed he was mentally tougher than his opponents today and that had always been Tiger’s advantage when he was playing his best.
Some will say that Tiger’s mistake on fourteen shows he isn’t the Tiger of old or that he still hasn’t notched a major in the last five years and that’s a valid argument. But the 2000-2001 Tiger happens maybe once in a century, maybe.
But this is clear, just as Ernie Els said during Tiger’s dominating years, he’s just better than everyone else. He’s back to number one and winning at a Tiger-like clip and a major isn’t far away.
It’s Tiger’s World once again and everyone else is just living in it.