The man is asked that question every time he plays well, more often when he ended his 749-day drought by winning his sponsored World Challenge at the end of 2011. The question continued to come up in various forms last year after each of his wins (Bay Hill, Memorial and AT&T National at Congressional). The question was inevitably going to be asked yet again after he won for a record eighth time at Torrey Pines this past month by four strokes. The answer he gave Monday January 28th after his win in the Farmers Insurance Open was that he “never left.”
However dear readers, [and Tiger Woods if you’re reading this], that’s not entirely accurate. Woods was the undisputed No. 1 player in golf for the better part of five years and now he’s not. Especially after his now ex-wife smashed his vehicle and nearly his face after finding out about his affairs – which, I might add, caused Woods to miss the rest of the tournaments in 2009 due to “injuries”… right. While Tiger has climbed back into the No.2 ranking, he still trails Rory McIlroy by more than three points (everything Tiger Woods did last year, McIlroy did that much better).
Torrey Pines was Woods’ fourth win in his last sixteen starts on the PGA Tour. Perhaps a better indication of Tiger’s game is that he has found some consistency. Woods has finished in the Top 10 in six of his last seven tournaments around the world, which may not sound like a huge accomplishment, until you consider that fact that Woods hasn’t had a stretch like that since he “left” at the end of 2009. After his win, however, (and with everyone now clamoring for more Tiger), Woods has announced that he will not play again until the end of this month. Which will be the Match Play Championship. It’s tempting to make bold declarations about the rest of the PGA Tour year based on how Woods has played so far this year, though the finish at Torrey Pines has cause for concern. Woods finished +4 in the last 5 holes claiming that it, ”Got a little ugly at the end, I started losing patience a little bit with the slow play.” Also remember, it was only a week prior to his victory that Woods missed the cut in Abu Dhabi.
I say give it time people. There are still a little over 9 more months in the year left to play. Maybe if he wins The Masters in April (which would be his 15th Major Championship victory and his first since the US Open in 2008), he’ll truly be “back” again. Until then Tiger is in the hunt but he’s not king of the world again just yet.