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Monday, September 24, 2018

Tiger Woods Did It

Did I ever really think we'd see this day again. I mean, taking the emotion out of the equation, did I really believe Tiger Woods would be able to find a way back to the top of a PGA Tour event after everything he's been through? Some did. Those in his inner circle had been telling me he was close. Tiger's game was clearly returning to form and his body was healing beyond what had been anticipated.

I just didn't believe it was possible.

He had actually shocked me with a 2nd at the Valspar all the way back in March followed by a 5th at the Arnold Palmer. But a 32nd at the Masters and a missed cut at the U.S. Open led me to believe that, while he may be able to challenge a regular event field, taking on the class of a major was still a distant dream.

But then, on a somewhat out of character beautiful Sunday afternoon at Carnoustie, Tiger Woods was leading The Open Championship. He struggled down the stretch and ultimately finished in 6th place. Could he win? Many were now certain that he would. I saw his late fade as proof that he simply wasn't physically capable of playing enough consistent quality golf over 72 holes anymore to get it done.

I just didn't believe it was possible.

An amazing charge on Sunday afternoon at the 2018 PGA Championship answered most of my final doubts. Shooting a nearly flawless round of 64 saw Tiger Woods nearly pull off the win. But Brooks Koepka answered and took home the Wanamaker Trophy by 2-strokes leaving Woods to settle for 2nd place. But the message was clear.

Tiger had answered all of the critics. He was now obviously capable of competing for a victory at the highest level of the game once again. But, golf being what it is, being capable of doing something and actually doing it are not the same thing.

Which led us to yesterday afternoon at East Lake. There he was. At the top of the Tour Championship leaderboard filled with nearly all of the top golfers in the world. 18 holes of golf to be played. Was he finally going to put together four consecutive rounds of golf good enough to win? He was.

After the round, Woods spoke of not being sure himself that this day would ever be possible not that very long ago. He reminded us all that the most recent surgery he had endured was not even meant to get him back onto the golf course. It was meant to give him his basic quality of life back.

"Am I going to be able to sit, stand, walk, lay down without feeling the pain that I was in?"

Woods also, somewhat out of character, spoke of the other demons he had faced on his road back. He said that the people closest to him had witnessed "the struggles" he had gone through. He offered no details. There was no need. Because of the spotlight of celebrity, we all know where he's been. That he's back on top makes it all that much more impressive.

Where does Tiger Woods go from here? He obviously wants to keep playing but admits that he isn't sure just how much longer he has. He spoke of perhaps a decade or two more of competitive golf, using the guys out on the PGA Tour Champions as his inspiration, but also seemed to realize that this could all go away much sooner than that. This new Tiger Woods appears more humble and appreciative of what he has and that's a good sign. I'm sure he's already dreaming of another Green Jacket this April but also understands that this could all end on his next swing.

As a fan of golf, I'm thrilled to have Tiger Woods winning again. Will he ever dominate? Will he ever be World #1 again? Will he win another major championship?

Right now, I believe anything is possible.