It seems whenever I don’t write a preview and pick Tiger to win, he wins. So, being a fan of the man, I guess I should only write previews to tournaments he doesn’t participate in. Or else he may never catch the Golden Bear’s 18 Major milestone.
Tiger showed us yet again, that his better is better than everyone else’s. He is the only guy on tour that can not be beat if he is playing close to his best. This was Woods’ 7th victory at Firestone, the most ever by a player at a single course, and really marks his return from injury. He showed signs of past brilliance in besting Sean O’Hair earlier this season, and at Memorial, but the past few weeks, and especially today’s performance, have really shown the gutty, grinding, dominant Tiger we grew accustomed to.
After his British Open club throwing show people seemed to doubt him, but Woods has since proved there is still a giant discrepancy between the world’s #1 and whoever may be the world’s #2.
This week also marked the return of another Blue Duck favorite in Paddy Harrington, who fell off the face of the earth earlier this season, but (thankfully for Wilson Staff, who live and die by Paddy’s performance, unless Ricky Barnes has another good day) the Irishman came back to form this week. Harrington was bested as much by a timing official as by Tiger. And was beaten by the 16th hole, nicknamed “the Monster,” a Monster which Woods slayed with a bomb of an 8 iron from trouble 180 yards away. Vintage Tiger knocked it inside the leather and tapped in for birdie. It ended up being a 4 shot swing, and Woods cruised to victory.
I understand the rules, but why be sticklers with the last group on sunday? The officials pulled out their stopwatches as if there was a group of hackers waiting in carts on the sixteenth tee. Did CBS have to get to 60 minutes? Does Tim Finchem just like to flex his nuts from time to time? The timing issues seemed to leave Tiger feeling uneasy and unsatisfied by his victory. Both players had a blast duking it out for 16 holes and it was a shame it had to end with time being an issue.
Regardless of clocks and all that nonsense, Tiger showed he is the modern king of sport yet again. And with every victory Woods gets closer to Nicklaus as the all time best. Tiger’s 70th victory leaves him only three behind Nicklaus (Snead has more I know). A month ago, a Golf.com article ranked Tiger a close second to Nicklaus all time. I can’t say that this victory changes that, but looking at the top 20 you will be quick to notice that Tiger is the only modern player on the list. Knowing that Nicklaus had to deal with 7 of the rest of the top 20 at some point in his career makes his numbers a bit more impressive. Tiger did compete against Annika once or twice, though.
As the Golf.com article points out, Bobby Jones said of Jack Nicklaus when he first witnessed him play, “he plays a game with which I am not familiar.” I think the great amateur would have a similar reaction to Mr. Woods, but he might tell him to stop throwing his clubs.