What Does Tiger’s Comeback Mean for Golf?
As I watched The Valspar Championship last weekend, I could not help but reminisce about the old Tiger. You know, the guy who won 14 majors. The guy who has 79 career PGA Tour victories. The guy who spent 281 consecutive weeks at World #1 and has sat atop that position for 683 weeks of his professional career. The reason that I felt that way and couldn’t help but think about “old Tiger” is because he looks good. His golf swing looks good. Short game looks good. Putting looks good. His attitude looks good. I am of the opinion that he will win again very soon and will ultimately win another major championship if not multiple.
I do not say that lightly as the competition on tour is greater than ever. Guys like Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Rory McIlroy, John Rahm, etc… are not simply going to roll over and let Tiger take the trophy. But at 42 years of age, and after how many surgeries, including a back-fusion surgery under a year ago, what he did last weekend in my mind is nothing short of remarkable. In a field with some of the game’s greats (just look at the leaderboard) Tiger recorded the fastest clubhead speed in the entire field at 129mph. He was also Top 30 in ALL major “strokes gained” categories and was 11th in the field in total strokes gained. It seems to me like he is back, and I hope for quite some time.
Love him or hate him, what Tiger does for the game of golf is undeniable and unmatched by anyone. If you watched the tournament, you saw his gallery on Sunday. It was massive! Guys about to win major championships often don’t create a gallery that massive. He single-handedly helped NBC grab the biggest non-Masters TV audience since 2015! Everyone, including myself, tunes in to see what Tiger is doing. He has a draw similar to the likes of Michael Jordan or Muhammed Ali. He is simply not one of the greatest golfers ever, but one of the greatest athletes.
It has been a long time coming, but last weekend Tiger provided us a glimpse of who he once was. He provided a glimpse to many young golfers, some of which were too young to remember the Tiger of the early 2000’s who won every time he tee’d it up. But that is the Tiger that I know and cheer for. He provided a glimpse to me, of those Tiger moments from long ago. The moments where he does the unthinkable and cements what makes him so great. The putt on 17 was a perfect example of that. He may look different in doing so, but I’ll say it again, I believe he is back. And in my opinion, that is really good for the game of golf.
He certainly gets people talking about the game. He convinced me way back when that it was cool to pick up a golf club instead of a baseball bat. He made the Nike swoosh popular in golf and not just basketball and football. Most importantly, he tore down a lot of walls and stigmas that golf was only a “Rich Man’s” sport. He did not do all of this alone, but he helped lead the charge. I’m not saying that you need to like the man, he’s made his fair share of mistakes, but if you have time research a little on what the Tiger Woods Foundation has done for underserved youth.
Tiger is scheduled to play this week at Arnold Palmer’s Invitational, an event that he has won 8 times before. I for one know that I will be watching. I’ll watch and hope to see another one of those “Tiger Moments”, with the understanding that he is drawing attention to our game, and maybe inspiring another young boy or girl to pick up a golf club and go play.