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March 19, 2018
Tiger Miracle and Rory's Resurrection
Tiger Woods has excited the sporting public to fevering heights. Record crowds enthusiastically watched Tiger at PGA National, Innisbrook, and Bay Hill. Not just the diehard golf fanatics, but the casual sports fan came out to see a comeback that few even dreamed could happen. By Tiger's own words, it was only a short while ago that he didn't know if he could even get out of bed let alone walk or be able to swing a golf club. So what we are witnessing could be called a miracle! I have to think it has to have surprised even Tiger himself!
Discussing about his return to competitive golf before his first tournament in December, he talked about adapting to his new body and its limitations. He realized he wasn't going to be the long driver that he once was and how he needed a different more strategic game plan to navigate the golf course. What we have seen is not only the old Tiger, but a new and improved Tiger. He has been able to create faster clubhead speed that is way above the Tour average and drives that rival Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy. With that type of swing speed, he has more than enough firepower to compete with any of the young stars of today. Coupling that with a razor sharp short game and you have to think a number of PGA Tour victories are imminent in the near future.
Rory has been an enigma recently. He started the year strongly with a 2nd and 3rd in January on the European Tour, but in four previous PGA Tour events he had two missed cuts and only a 20th finish in Los Angeles. Rory's last round 64 at Bay Hill was vintage Rory at his best. The commentators praised him on how well he putted, but he missed numerous relatively short makeable putts earlier in the round that could have had him flirting with a 59. When Rory is "on", he is the best in the world. This was a masterful exhibition of ball striking from tee to green and excellent putting to close the deal.
Tiger got it rolling and at one point was one shot off the lead. His out-of-bounds on 16 was truly a poor shot. He stated that he didn't commit totally to the shot, but his swing was full-out with speed. Maybe a bad decision, but he was going for it. Next time, maybe there will be a different result.
Tiger is the best that I have ever seen. With this small sampling it certainly appears that he can be great again. What has made Tiger great, through his career, is that he has been consistent. He rarely misses cuts and usually contends. Rory is similar to Phil Mickelson in that they are brilliant, but can be erratic. Their ups and downs are far apart. I have never seen anyone better than Rory McIlroy when he is totally on his game. The last round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational was Rory at his best. It was fun to watch the brilliance.
Tiger, according to Vegas, is now the favorite at the Masters. That's emotional betting or hoping. Does he have a chance? Absolutely! But he hasn't put the final pieces together to complete his remarkable comeback. Will it be at the Masters? I wouldn't put it past him, but I'm also not betting on it. My favorites are Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy. Rory at his best beats everyone. If that Rory appears at Augusta, then we will be in for a special treat. Even Tiger will applaud.