Tiger Woods is back. His game was on like running water as he calmly tamed a course he "mastered" at Augusta for the first time in 1997 as a 21-year old freak of nature. Now he's a 34-year old man attempting to simply get his life back in order.
Can Tiger shake off five months of rust to really win the Masters? Can his stellar play halt the questions about his "transgressions?"
There are a lot of questions that still linger with respect to marital infidelity. But that's another matter. This is about his golf game. It's rare that someone takes off five months and comes back to win a major. But if anyone can do it Tiger can.
That's why based on what I witnessed in the first round of the Masters I think that was the most important round of golf in his life.
Tiger hasn't hoisted a trophy in triumph since November 15, 2009. But despite the rust he looks pretty good. He hadn't teed it up in tournament until now. Tiger reminded us, pre-"transgressions" why he mattered and what we as sports fans missed in his self-imposed absence.
His golf game.
Considering what Tiger has been through the last five months and to come out and shoot a 67 at a major is stuff of legend.
Why hasn't Tiger played?
Well, days after Thanksgiving Tiger wrecked his Black Cadillac Escalade in front of his Orlando spread. From that point on the rubber began to hit the pavement as the world found out Tiger wasn't the man he was projected to be. We now know Tiger has been teeing up with multiple women other than his wife. Many of us were initially shocked.
For the past five months the world was riveted to the television wondering how this could happen to the face of golf. People were wondering how could Tiger, the family man and most popular athlete in the world, self-indulge with so many women yet still produce on the golf course.
Now everyone knows what he's done. We know he isn't perfect. He's not the man we thought he was because he induced shamed upon himself, his family and all those who supported him.
But Tiger is a robotic figure, he's merely human.
Tiger was subject to world-wide scrutiny. Coverage of his "transgressions" was aired for all to see. But after enduring a rehab stint, family turmoil, facing media scrutiny and the uncertainty of his golf game Tiger let us know yesterday why he matters.
We care more about how he makes us feel on the golf course as opposed to what he does off it.
Let's keep it real here. Tiger Woods isn't a billion-dollar athlete because he's a nice guy. Tiger wasn't the beloved figure pre-"transgressions" because he had a great smile. Tiger isn't adored by corporate giants by Nike because he has a great sense of humor. Nor were the women who Tiger bedded were intrigued by him because he's an everyday guy.
Bottom line: The reason why he's adored is due to how he makes us feel when he's at the height of his golfing powers.
Tiger has ascended in golf the same way Barack Obama has risen up the political latter. Both have a star quality. Part of it is fact and some fiction, but nonetheless we are induced to care.
Irrespective of his poor choices Tiger proved why he's special. Tiger's first round of 67 at the Masters won't ensure victory but what it does demonstrate is he's the biggest draw in sports and he always delivers the goods.
He shook off the media scrutiny, the turmoil he brought upon his family and the rust of being away from the game he loved to step on the first tee at the Masters and send a lazar down the fairway on the first tee.
Again, all things considered, stuff of legend.
This probably isn't the best round of golf Tiger has ever but it can well be the most important round of golf he's played as he tries to get both his game and life in order. His game seems to be fine.
His life, we'll have to wait and see.
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