Imagine being 42 years old, in great condition, and one of the greatest athletes of all time and most observers thinking you’re done. That is what Tiger Woods has faced from a perception standpoint since 2015. Four back surgeries, many hours of therapy, and stretching and weight-lifting and Woods is measured only by winning.
He’s back on the PGA tour now full-time, and after starting the year as the 1,062nd-ranked player in the world, he’s climbed inside the top 100 players in the world. After finishing in a tie for 11th place in the Players Championship shooting 65-69 on the weekend, Woods has climbed to 80th in the world rankings.
He has his sights on winning again. You can feel it. The Players Championship is called “golf’s fifth major.” The winner Sunday, Webb Simpson, won by four shots. He had a seven-shot lead after 54 holes, which tied Greg Norman’s course record.
It was his first win on tour in 107 tournaments, his last being in 2013. He was forced to change his putting style because the tour banned players using anchored stroke putters two years ago.
We should not be surprised by Woods. He has, after all, won 79 times on the PGA tour and captured 14 Majors. Only two men in history are ahead of him in the PGA career record book of golf: Sam Snead with 81 career PGA wins and Jack Nicklaus with 18 Major Championships. Woods has 79 and 14, and he’s pain free for the first time in years.
Despite making the cut on the number at -1 after 36 holes, Woods shot 65 on Saturday. That included a 30 on the front side. Sunday he was great again, closing to within four shots of the lead Sunday by Simpson before finishing with a 69.
For the first time since 2001, American-born players have won all five of the top five tournaments in golf: the Masters, U.S. Open, British Open, PGA Championship and the Players.
How good is Woods? When is the last time it happened on tour that Americans had won all five in succession? Woods held all five titles – the Players, Masters, U.S. Open, British Open and PGA Championship – simultaneously. He is the only player in history to achieve it. With three Majors left this year and many other big tournaments, Woods appears to be getting his game back to form.
Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, on WDGY-AM 740 Monday and Friday at 9:10 am, and at www.Gamedaygold.com. He also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.