One swallow may not make a summer but for Tiger Woods, one victory appears to have encouraged a spring revival good enough to immediately install The Great One as a clear favourite for the upcoming Masters. This, of course, was a fact waiting to happen.
Only the most blinkered or churlish ever dismissed Woods when it came to Augusta. For me, and for the foreseeable future, he always will be favourite. he calls it ‘my place’ and for once the great self-promoter may be guilty of some serious understatement.
It was good to see him finally win a full-on tournament at the weekend although it would have been even better if someone, and preferably Graeme McDowell, had managed to really put him under pressure but as Tiger usually says, it was what it was and what it was was mightily impressive with driving and putting restored to somewhere close to as good as ever.
For Woods, the relief was palpable. This wasn’t one leering monkey he removed from his back it was a whole platoon of the beasts. Sunday March 25 really was the first day of the rest of his professional life.
He never will be as good as he was back in 2000 and 2001 when he reeled off four majors on the bounce by playing what was surely the best, most nervelessly focused golf anyone, anywhere, anytime ever has laid before a startled public gaze. He will, however, be good enough now to remain relevant during the biggest weeks for several years to come. The only threat is how his battered body stands up to the physical pressure of a swing that remains brutally bludgeoning.
Meanwhile, he waits for the sniping publicity that will be unleashed when Hank Haney’s ‘tell-all’ book is officially released this week. Already the drip-feed excerpts have encouraged a spate of Tiger-bashing that does no-one concerned any favours. This includes Haney himself.
Before he became Woods’ coach only a few had heard of him but now he is riding the publicity bandwagon for all it is worth. So far we have been told that Tiger is self-obsessed, occasionally rude and, on the whole, rather a cold fish. Well, blow me down, that comes as a shock doesn’t it. The fact that he didn’t bring a lollipop for his coach when he raided his fridge for one for himself has – can you believe it? – made headlines around the world.
Irritating though this may have been for Haney the tone of his complaints about his former employer suggest to me that what Haney wanted to be more than anything else was Tiger’s new, best friend. The role he actually filled was that of the hired help. And, let’s face it, almost everyone in Woods’ crazy life is the hired help as far as he is concerned. Even his ex-wife found that out sooner rather than later.
Enough already of the scandalous stuff. For now and for a long time let’s just concentrate on the golf. I’m not holding what remains of my breath for this to happen but it would be refreshing. Wouldn’t it?