That one person is Tiger. Twelve months ago, in the Hero World Challenge, we were all relieved that Tiger had completed a full tournament and shown himself to be competitive. Whilst we were wistfully wondering what the coming year had in store for him, the players who were playing practice rounds with him were saying that he had a game to win, again.
In January he had an Official World ranking of 647, now in December he currently resides in 14th position ahead of Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed. The sports journalists have said that his come back from the verge of being forgotten, to contending at the highest level is the greatest of all time. If it isn’t, it sure is close.
What needs to be remembered is that he is now physically in the September of his golf career. The surgeries for the injuries have had their toll on his body and psyche. The recovery time is longer with the schedule lighter.
The moment it all became real was at The Open at Carnoustie, because let’s face it talking and doing are two totally different universes; like your practice swing and the swing for real. One of the defining moments of the year was turning on the TV on Sunday afternoon, just in time to watch the back nine of the Championship, and seeing Tiger leading. Then quickly double bogeying the 12th to move him back and set the stage for the Molinari clinical finish. Tiger’s 2017 wish was for the younger players, who hadn’t experienced a competitive Tiger, to see what the hype was really about and experience the determined and fighting spirit of the true Tiger.
Then to the USPGA Championship where he finished second. This qualified him to play in the FedEx Playoffs which led to the amazing sight of his 80th Tour victory in Atlanta. The crowds, the sights, who could forget them, he was back and now had won the Tour championship. Something which could easily be overlooked is that if Justin Rose, the eventual winner of the FedEx Playoffs, had not birdied the last hole to win, Tiger would have won the whole shebang too.
He freely admits that he played in too many events this year, his body could not handle the load. This would explain his lack lustre performance in the Ryder Cup, especially the singles. He looked injured or tired or both. So, he is cutting back the schedule and going to focus on the tournaments which matter, the Majors.
His final round of the year has been carded, the clubs are going to be changed, the gym is going to be hit, so his body is ready for 2019.
The only glitch in this stellar rise back to the forefront of the game really was ‘The Match’. Between Phil and Tiger the day after Thanksgiving. If you had the misfortune of watching at least it was free. For me it really showed that Tiger is hugely comfortable trying to get every last ounce of talent out of himself, but put him in a freewheel banter gambling situation he really has no skill in that ring.
Looking forward to 2019, is the crown of World Number 1 still there to be worn?
What we believe isn’t important, what we have been shown time and again is it’s what he believes that truly matters.
If we can learn anything from his history it would be that he has always believed he could win, so is adding another week onto his tally of 683 is possible, another PGA Tour win to his 80 probable and another Major onto his 14 would be unreal, yet plausible.