Aren’t we all glad that’s over with?
With his 72nd-hole birdie at the Chevron World Challenge, Tiger Woods shoved aside two years worth of speculation about when – or even if – he’d win another golf tournament. That he did it in dramatic, classic-Tiger fashion was simply a bonus for fans craving a magical moment to herald his return.
Now that Tiger’s answered the fundamental question, we’re left with an existential puzzler:
What does it all mean?
It’s impossible to know whether beating a strong but small Chevron field signals that Tiger will pick up where he left off, or if he’ll resume life as a world-class-but-mortal tour stalwart.
Here’s what we do know:
- Tiger’s swing is in solid shape: He hit a number of remarkable shots at Sherwood, but more importantly launched fewer of those head-scratching “Fore!” bombs we’ve come to expect. The stinger tee shot and string-straight 9-iron he crafted on 18 Sunday showed a swing that looks impervious to nerves.
- Tiger’s body is healthy: No limping off tees or grimacing after big swings. Tiger’s been practicing diligently and playing plenty of late, declaring his damaged knee and Achilles 100 percent.
- Tiger’s mind is right: Most importantly, Tiger acted like Tiger with the hardware on the line. While he struggled with the putter most of Sunday, his focus was laser-sharp on the last two holes. That’s a sign that the distractions that dogged him* the past two years have been dealt with, or at least receded from the front of his cranium.
(*Spare me the “he brought it on himself” sermon. We all agree on that.)
By winning in his last scheduled appearance of 2011, Tiger tossed the golf world a big, fat bone of a topic to chew on until he cranks it up again in 2012: Is he really, truly back?
Trust me, this one will get gnawed to the marrow.