The worlds best golfers gather this week at Royal Liverpool for the sports oldest tournament and the biggest story is that Tiger will be competing in his first major since his back surgery 4 months ago. Tiger claims to be in good shape and ready to take on the field.
Tiger Woods has been stuck at 14 and that may change this weekend, 14 majors that is. In his quest to chase Jack Nicklaus’s 18 major championships, Woods has never fallen behind in milestones to reach the goal in 14 years and if he fails to lift the Claret jug on Sunday, he will. That means that in Nicklaus’s 35 year he won The Open Championship as his 15th major win and Tiger (also in his 35th year) must win this weekend to stay on track.
The last time The Open Championship was at Royal Liverpool was in 2006. Tiger Woods avoided nearly every deep walled fairway bunker and made very key puts to win his 11th major at the time, just two months after his father, Earl, passed away.
“I’m so confused right now… I don’t know what my golf swing is supposed to do.”
When better to talk about Tiger’s majors record hunt then in the first week of April. Tiger Woods has won six of his last 20 events and has reattained his number one status after his 8th win at the Arnold Palmer Invitational so people may think that he is ready.
In April 2010, Tiger returned to Augusta for his first tournament since his mistakes were made known to the world. He saw the coarse, that he has won on four time, from a place he has very rarely been, the trees. Before boarding his private jet back home he told his longtime friend, “I’m so confused right now… I don’t know what my golf swing is supposed to do.”
The puzzled golfer went into a 6 year tailspin and in the process gaining a new caddy (LaCava) and a new swing.
I had the once in a life time opportunity to go to the Monday practice round at the Masters in Augusta Georgia. It is absolutely amazing.
The first thing you notice is the amusement park feel as you walk down a small road between the gift shop and main concessions. Then, when you get to the end if the road, there is a massive green carpet that stretches down the hill along the 18th fairway.
My family and I were able to follow Tiger Woods as he played the back 9. But the most fun is on the 16th hole that is a short par 3 that plays entirely over water. The players took their tee shots and then the fans in the gallery stared yelling “Skip” encouraging the players to try to skip the ball over the water onto the green. When the players make it over the crowd erupts with cheers that could match any during the tournament days.
The beauty of the course is something you can’t find anywhere else. The grass is groomed to perfection and flowers cover the holes in a colorful backdrop.
When you are there, you can really appreciate the talent of some of the players because you really see how long and how accurate each shot has to be. Each spot on the greens and fairways are different and you have to know where the ball is going to roll on hit each shot.
Tiger started the tournament poorly Thursday and Friday. As the day went on Friday he got more and more frustrated till he kicked his club on 16.
After the round yesterday, him and his coach stayed on the range till 8:30 last night to get his swing right. After a while the sun didn’t let you see the ball after a few hundred yards of being hit, but he knew what he had to do to get back in it.
It will be interesting to see what he will end up doing in the final rounds of the Masters. If he makes his way to the top of the leaderboard it will be a very impressive story.
(all pictures were taken by David Bridge)
This man has gone to being on top of the world, torn down, and is working his way back up. There is a lot to be said about the individual in the picture above, but I’m going to make it simple.Amazing.
This man has not only proven himself to be better at golf than anyone in the world for years, but he has been to hell and back.
I’m not going to tell you about how I think Tiger Woods is back to his old self again and he is going to be unstoppable, because I don’t think he is. He still has a lot of work to do before that point his “second career”. But I’m also not going to sit here and bash him either. He made some mistakes. And as much as people want to think he isn’t, he is only human. Just, a human with extraordinary talent and cameras following him everywhere.
I like Tiger. Always have. After all the press started to simmer down and he started playing again, I found myself wanting him to win more than I did before. I guess it’s because, well I don’t actually know why. But I’m not the only one. Sunday afternoon was one of the greatest moments in golf this year. Its king has returned to his throne on top the leaderboard.
After his second shot on the 18th landed on the green at Bay Hill, he had a long walk in front of a crowd that was 10 deep on both sides of the fairway. With a big grin on his face he walked while spectators ran behind him to get the best spot to see Tiger sink his putt.
And then the roar. The crowd that surrounds Woods doesn’t give off a roar like most players get when they hit the long put for the occasional eagle. The crowd rewards Tiger with an explosion of noise that can be heard all around the course, and maybe the nearby town. That was no different Sunday when his ball rolled into the cup to seal his first win in 2 years.
He has a new coach, a new caddy, and has been working on a new swing. He has worked hard to get back to the place he was before the fateful Thanksgiving morning. This is only a step in the process to that goal, but it has to feel good getting that first win and the 500 lbs off his shoulders.