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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Number One still isn’t good enough for Tiger Woods

We’ve seen these results from Bay Hill before. As a matter of fact, eight times to be exact. That’s the number of Arnold Palmer Invitational Tournaments Tiger Woods has won. However Monday’s result could prove to be the biggest yet. Not because of the accomplishment itself but what the victory stands for. With his 77th PGA Tour win, Tiger not only recaptured golf’s #1 player status in the world, a title missing from his resume for the past 124 PGA Tour weeks but also sets himself up with a rhythm and confidence we haven’t seen since his last major victory in the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines. The significance of this of course is the upcoming Masters where Woods will be the heavy favorite for his 15th Major Championship, which would truly mark a full recovery, at least in the golf sense from the marriage scandal that sent both Tiger’s game and personal life into a free for all. Augusta National hasn’t seen Woods slide on the Green Jacket since 2005. Not that there haven’t been close calls in the meantime but the thrill has been gone for some time now. After the 2005 win, Woods has finished third, and then tied for second in back to back years. In 2009 the best he could do was sixth, followed up by fourth place finishes in 2010 and 2011. Last year, after a solid 72 on Thursday he faltered shooting 75, on the way to proving he wasn’t close to coming full circle finishing a distant 40th overall. The last seven years of frustration at Augusta should be coming to a close though. The last time Woods won consecutive events entering the Masters was 2001 when he won at Bay Hill and The Players before capturing his second Green Jacket. Despite Tiger’s rise back to the game’s top spot coming all the way back from a low of 58th in the world in November of 2011, the true test of his comeback doesn’t really start until April 11th on the first tee of the Masters. Not everyone seems to understand this however. Tiger’s biggest sponsor Nike on Tuesday came out with a new ad campaign stating, “Winning takes care of everything”….Tiger Woods, World #1. Even new girlfriend Lindsay Vonn tweeted after Monday’s final round about her new man once again taking over golf’s thrown. The only numbers that really matter are major championships 15, 16, 17, 18 and 19. Those five numbers would make Tiger the true number one most likely forever. Woods has been stalled behind the great Jack Nicklaus for almost five years and 17 majors without gaining ground, instead only losing time. For most of Tiger’s journey of self-redemption since that Thanksgiving Night when the world discovered along with ex-wife Elin that Woods was only a great golfer and not person, husband and father at the time, most believed his best golf was behind him. We’ve watched him apologize on national television, fall flat on the course, have surgeries and undergo a new golf swing. All of these factors contributed to the biggest fall of any top athlete maybe in the history of modern era sports. But just when most of the experts believed the weight of Tiger’s indiscretions lay too heavy on his mind to the point of ruining his ability to win major tourneys, Woods is on the verge of proving almost everyone wrong. He’s now won three tournaments this season in five entries. His admission to his relationship with Vonn seems to be proof he’s gotten past his personal demons that seem to haunt him over ruining his marriage and the embarrassment it caused himself and his family. His health is once again not a factor on the course and the public overall has seemed to forgiven him. Getting back to being the world’s top player is nice but the only true redemption for Tiger the golfer not the person will be a win in a few weeks at Augusta. That would show he’s come full circle and once again be on track to become the greatest golfer that ever lived.

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