Tiger’s all-around game shines in win
Sure, Woods made a sloppy bogey at the final hole to win by 2 shots — the closest anyone got to him Sunday — and he could hit a few more fairways and maybe he needs to figure out a way to climb up the occasional tree when his ball comes to rest in one.
But his performance at the Trump Doral Resort this week in winning the WGC-Cadillac Championship was simply his best since the fourth major overhaul of his swing began under Sean Foley in August of 2010.
No Approaching Tiger
Tiger Woods already has two PGA Tour victories this season, and he has some improved iron play from 50-125 yards out to thank. Woods’ proximity to the hole on such shots this year is 14 feet, 1 inch, the ninth-best total on the PGA Tour — and significantly better than his previous two seasons. Here’s a look:
|Proximity to Hole||Tour Rank|
|— ESPN Stats & Information|
That doesn’t mean he will win the Arnold Palmer Invitational in two weeks or the Masters next month; the game is too fickle, too unpredictable, too maddening to make those kinds of assumptions. But it is impressive nonetheless.
His caddie, Joe LaCava, said this was Woods’ best 72-hole performance since hooking up with him in October 2011. Woods took only 100 putts, the lowest total in his PGA Tour career. His 27 birdies were just one short of the most he has ever made in an event.
He won for the fifth time in 50 weeks, the second time in 2013 and narrowed the gap on No. 1 Rory McIlroy in the Official World Golf Rankings.
And let’s not get into the most ridiculous question in golf: Is he back?
Back to what? Woods is 37, and while he admirably talks about trying to be better than ever and is wired in a way that elite performers must be, those mortals among us must realistically acknowledge that such comparisons are unfair.
Tiger Woods’ win at Doral reminds us all he’s still the best in the world
The interesting thing about Sunday at Doral was it seemed everyone, including Tiger Woods’ playing partner, was convinced the tournament was already over before it started. That’s the impact that Tiger has on golf when he’s really, really honed in.
Woods won his second PGA Tour event of 2013 on Sunday at the WGC-Cadillac Championship with what appeared to be a victory lap instead of a final round thanks to a hot start and not much push from the players that were biting at his heels. Woods shot a final round 71 that included two bogeys over his last three holes, but the lead had increased so much those holes didn’t matter.
Back when Tiger Woods was Tiger Woods we expected final rounds to look like this. Woods would go in with a big lead and you knew what was bound to happen. He would make some early birdies, hit a lot of irons off tees and make sure to find the fat part of every green because he was in such command of his golf ball that he was able to do that.
The last few wins haven’t been quite so comfortable. Sure, he rolled at Torrey Pines but he didn’t have a lot of pressure from the best in the world. That wasn’t the case on Sunday at Doral. Names like Phil Mickelson, Steve Stricker and Graeme McDowell were behind him and a host of other of golf’s upper echelon were just a few back of those names but it didn’t matter. Tiger went out with a mission, and for the first time since 2008 he has the golf swing to accomplish that mission.
His win seems more emphatic than the other four have in the last year. This win was a message to everyone that he isn’t just a big name that can win on any track, but he’s the best out there and his golf swing, and putting stroke, are showing that.
It’s fun to watch a guy find himself in the game of golf like this again. We’ve seen it happen to guys like Stricker, who basically forgot how to hit a golf ball for years before reinventing themselves on the PGA Tour, but it doesn’t happen to the top name in the sport. Woods didn’t know where the ball was going two years ago and now it seems he’s as in control of it as he’s been since the word “Tiger Slam.”