Tiger Wins Memorial to Tie The “Golden Bear”

After rounds at the  of 70,69,73 and an incredible 67 yesterday on a course playing extremely tough, Tiger Woods won The Memorial golf tournament at the Muirfeld Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio. The Memorial Tournament was founded by the great Jack Nicklaus, and fittingly Tiger’s win yesterday tied him with the “Golden Bear” for most wins ever on the PGA Tour with 73 for his career.

It wasn’t easy for ole Eldrick. Going into Sunday’s final round he was four shots off the lead and the fluctuating weather conditions and tough course layout (including ridiculous pin-placements that even frustrated Jack Nicklaus) were not conducive to low scores. None of that mattered to Tiger though, when the man is ready to compete mentally and physically it truly is a thing of beauty and he wanted this championship bad. It also took an incredible amount of luck for him to win this championship, as shown by his unbelievable birdie save on the 16th hole to tie him for the lead.

After hitting his tee shot on the par-3 16th hole a bit long and into the rough, Tiger left himself with a 50-foot chip shot from the rough to stay in contention in the tournament. Had he left it short it was a probable two putt that he couldn’t afford at the time, and had he got too much of the ball it would have likely ended up in the water and all but ended his chances right there. Tiger approached his ball, hidden by the tall grass, with his 60-degree sand wedge and flopped it straight up into the air and landed it softly on the green where it rolled ever so slowly toward the hole. Seconds later he watched the ball disappear into the cup for a Birdie-2 and a share of the lead after what CBS announcer Gary McCord perfectly described as a “sick” shot. The ensuing fist pump and crowd reaction could be best be characterized as “Vintage Tiger” and for a moment there he looked like the best player in the world once again. After that shot Tiger went on to birdie 17, and then on 18 he nailed a sneaky-fast 10 foot downhill putt for one final birdie and a two shot victory over Andres Romero and Rory Sabbatini.

The question on everybody’s mind is “Is he back?”. The answer to that question depends on what you believe to be “back” for a player who captured America’s heart and helped the sport of golf gain popularity, especially with youth participation. Many people thought he would never recover from his sex scandal and his infidelity to his now former wife Elin Nordegren, but with 3 wins in the past 7 months he may finally have some of his confidence back. We will have a better idea of how far that can take Woods when he tees at the U.S. Open in two weeks, as his career will be defined by how many Majors he wins, so for now I feel it’s best to take the “wait and see” approach. There’s no need to overreact to one tournament, but Tiger said that he was “excited because of the way I hit the golf ball this week” and that other than one shot on the 10th hole that “every shot was exactly the shape, the trajectory, the distance control [that he needed]. I had it all today, shape off tees, whatever club I wanted to hit, I could hit. That was fun to have it when I needed it”.

For golf fans everywhere those quotes and Tiger’s performance this weekend have to be encouraging. And even if it isn’t, well at the very least we got one shot to remember forever from Tiger Woods this past weekend. Next time I find myself alone on a practice green I’ll probably try that shot over and over again and I doubt I’ll even come close to holing it out, and for Tiger to knock that shot on 16 into the hole under those circumstances is truly remarkable whether you love him or hate him (or somewhere in between).

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