If some people don’t identify with what Woods has been through for the last 40 months, then perhaps they’re lucky. But they’re also not like a lot of us. It’s hard to find a life that never blew up. If that weren’t true, all the helping professions would be out of work.
With his back-to-back, always-in-command two-stroke wins at Doral and the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Woods has now won six times in his last 20 PGA Tour events over a 53-week span and is, indeed, No. 1 on earth again.
Some of his post-victory quotes to the press almost sounded like they were meant to have double meanings. “It feels good right now. I’m getting there,” he said. “I’ve turned some of the weaknesses I had into strengths.”
When was the last time he was this happy with his golf game?
“It’s been a few years,” he said.
It’s hard not to wonder, or perhaps just hope, if he’s ever been this happy being himself. When you’re a golf prodigy at the age of 2, have a pair of dominant stage parents and never rebel against authority at any of the conventional ages that every parent recognizes, something’s going to give eventually — with plenty of damage all around.
Now we’re seeing the effects of healing, which needed a ton of time, on and off the course. “If I got healthy, I know I can play this game at a high level,” said Woods, now a 17-year vet at 37, after his win on Monday. “That was the first step in the process. Once I got there, then my game turned.”
Part of his recent success is insanely good putting, like his final lag putt from 73 feet on Monday that stopped one inch from the cup, almost more of an exclamation point than if it had plunged into the hole. Great putting may last for weeks or months, but it never stays indefinitely.
Though various parts of Woods’s game will disappear at times and need a search party to reclaim, Tiger is now back as the best player in the world. As Vonn tweeted: “Number 1” with 14 exclamation points. That’s about right.
Many will say Woods has to win another major championship to finish this whole cycle of crash, burn and recover since winning the 2008 U.S. Open. That’s true. However, it’s hard to imagine that Woods won’t win more majors, even if he fails to capture his fifth Masters in two weeks.