So Tiger’s in contention at the Arnold Palmer Invitational PGA Tourney at Bayhill, in Orlando. He’s five back in the final round with Henrick Stenson leading, the latter having made biridie on his first hole of the day. That brought Stenson’s score to minus -13, compared to Woods’ minus -8. Woods, having just two-putt birdied the fourth hole and hitting the pin on a birdie attempt from the fringe on the fifth, sits at -1 for the day.
Like many who follow the game, I find myself pulling for Woods to the extent that I lose interest when the camera follows other golfers like Bryson de Chambeau (-11), Rory McIlroy (-10), Justin Rose (-10), and Ricky Fowler (-9) and all big names on tour, all in contention in this tournament that Tiger’s won no less than 8 times.
As some commentator said, succinctly, those other guys are good, but they aren’t Tiger Woods, who just missed an eagle (two under par), settling instead for another two-putt birdie on number 6, to get to minus -9.
Above : Arnold and Jack during the 1971 Ryder Cup matches in 1971, many moons ago
Even the crowds out on the course on Saturday were totally immersed in Woods’ progress back to prominence after a fourth back surgery and his cheating ways. He is a divorced father of two kids, Charlie and Sam, who are apparently old enough now to understand what their father has done and can, apparently, still do. The fact that there was a sparse group following the final pairing yesterday which included Stenson, compared to the massive crowds that had followed Woods throughout his round and then just went home once the onetime master of the game had completed his eighteen holes proves that Woods is as popular as he ever was.
As a matter of fact, not only did some people appear to delight in Tiger’s fall from grace but he was regarded as arrogant by many, both within the ranks of his fellow-pros and among golf watchers as well. Now, however, he seems to be more popular than he ever was, and he’s gaining strength with every appearance in a golf tournament.
Above: Tiger and Arnold Palmer share a laugh after the 2013 Palmer Invitational, won by Tiger, winner of seven others.
Woods hasn’t proved anything yet and won’t until he wins a tournament to go with the seventy-eight he’s already won, including 14 majors, second in that respect only to the eighteen majors won by Jack Nicklaus. However, with a chance to win this tournament, he definitely appears to be back.
Above : From the left – Lee Trevino, Gary Player, Arnold and Jack in 2012.
As it turned out, Tiger choked, pulling his drive on the par 5 16th hole out of bounds. He ended up bogeying that hole as well as the next, finishing the round with a scrambling par on #18. His final score of minus -10 was good enough for a tie for fifth place, a full eight shots behind McIlroy who won the tournament by getting birdies on five of his last six holes.
“On a day with plenty of headliners injecting the 2018 Arnold Palmer Invitational with palpable enthusiasm and “Are you believing this?!” looks, Rory McIlroy took center stage down the stretch and put the accelerator down with a closing 8-under 64 and his first PGA Tour victory since the 2016 Tour Championship.” – courtesy of the internet
Above : Rory McIlroy begins his final round yesterday at Bay Hill. He shot an -8 under 64 to win the tournament.
“Despite Woods coming up short, it was the second consecutive Sunday where the red shirt meant something on the Tour. Woods, bedridden and in constant pain just 11 months ago, came up one shot short last week and finished in a tie for second in the Valspar, his best result since 2015.” – USA Today
Woods has paid dearly for serially cheating on his beautiful wife, Elin Nordegren. When this story broke years ago, Woods was at the top of the golf world and yesterday marked the first time in over 1000 rounds on tour since then that Tiger had a real chance to win. Phil Mickelson broke the same scoring drought a few weeks ago so why not Tiger?
There was a time that I was angry at Mr. Woods for depriving me and millions of others of the chance to see golf history unfolding in front of our incredulous eyes because of the fact that he cheated on his then-wife. The total fall from grace which ensued seemingly ended Tiger’s quest to become the greatest golfer in the history of the game. “Fuck him”, I thought, “what a prick”. Up until a few weeks ago, when Tiger finished a less than 20 man field tourney with more birdies than anyone else that week, there was little indication that Tiger was on a serious and meaningful comeback trail.
But now he is, on the comeback trail, as it were. It’s only a matter of time before Woods starts winning again, making what seemed like the end of his brilliant career on the golf course into nothing more than a long intermission.
You are forgiven, Mr. Woods. The past is water under the bridge. Good luck, man.