5 Reasons Tiger Woods Is Back
The 2012 golf season has been one of redemption for Tiger Woods.
After two complete years in the golf abyss, Woods is once again one of the key players on the PGA Tour. He has won three tournaments this season and has put himself in a position to win the FedEx Cup Playoffs and will be a prominent member of the U.S. Team in the upcoming Ryder Cup.
So the 2012 season is far from over and it will be up to someone to beat Woods in the FedEx Cup and then in the big international competition.
It may happen. But it will take a great golfer's best effort to do it. Woods is No. 2 on the money list, No.2 on the FedEx Cup Points Standings and No. 2 in the World Golf Rankings. Rory McIlroy leads in all of these categories.
What's great for the game of golf is that while anyone can look objectively at the stats and come to the conclusion that Woods is once again one of the best golfers in the game, it's not good enough for him.
He wants to be the best, so he's going to continue to work at all aspects of his game so he can reclaim his No. 1 title and start picking off major championships once again.
A full, aggressive swing. Time after time.
Prior to the 2012 season, Tiger Woods was in his scramble mode, trying to put good holes together by cobbling one magical and strategic shot after another. It simply didn't work.
But by the time Woods got to the Arnold Palmer's Invitational, he was no longer scrambling. He was going for it. The long distance off the tee, the smooth irons, the well-struck approach shots. He was hitting all of them and he won Palmer's Invitational by five strokes.
Alan Shipnuck of Sports Illustrated said that Woods' ball striking was "merciless" in that tournament and that it would have "profound ramifications" in his pursuit of Jack Nicklaus's major championship record (source: StLToday.com).
While Woods did not win any of the majors, his swing was aggressive throughout the majority of golf's regular season.
There's a certain aspect to Woods' swing that no other golfer can emulate.
His timing with all of his swings shows his obvious athleticism and talent. Few golfers have ever had the rhythm that Woods has had on the golf course and that aspect was not as obvious when he was slumping.
Much of his timing comes from the amount of work he does on the practice tee. He's not going to try to hit three, four or five perfect shots in a row. He wants to lose count and hit perfect shot for 10, 15 or 20 minutes at the practice tee.
Ryan Lavner of GolfWeek.com relayed a story in which swing coach Sean Foley and caddy Joe LaCava watched Woods swing his irons for 20 minutes and they did not utter one word because each shot was struck so crisply.
Tiger Woods has had a myriad of injuries and health problems that have impacted him for years.
His biggest issues have involved his left knee (source: utsandiego.com). Nobody is going to say that he is 100 percent healthy and that he won't have more knee problems in the future, but he is feeling stronger in 2012 than he has in the recent past.
Because he has enjoyed relatively good health this year, he has been able to work on his game consistently.
"I've been able to train again," Woods told WBIR.com. "Rehabbing and training are two totally different scenarios. I've been rehabbing pretty much the entire last couple of years. Now I'm healthy enough to train without issue. My body's feeling explosive again. ... I can literally train all day now."
When Tiger Woods is on his game, there's no shot that intimidates him and he doesn't care about the strength of the field that he is facing and he comes through with winning shots.
He found the winner's circle three times in 2012 after getting blanked in 2010 and 2011. That's a significant improvement.
For the record, Woods has pointed out that his primary goal is to win major titles. However, he takes great joy any time he wins a tournament.
His past success also builds his confidence and his rivals on the tour know it well. "There is no current player that has the portfolio of good memories, of good shots, and of good comebacks and good victories," three-time PGA Tour winner Camilo Villegas told WBIR.com. " It's this simple - if you stand on the first tee and he's won about 100 times around the world and you've won two or three, who do you think has the advantage?"
Tiger Woods knows what has been said about him and he knows what has been written about him. He knows that many in the golf community turned vicious in their criticism of his personal shortcomings and also had a few who were laughing at his game.
Woods has been in position to contend in three of the four majors after two rounds but he has not played well on Saturday or Sunday. That's when there's talk about how the "old Tiger Woods" would never have let those opportunities slip away.
Additionally, former Tiger Woods coach and confidante Hank Haney wrote a book this year in which he revealed many of Woods' inner-most thoughts and feelings.
When Woods hears criticism and has to contend with his private thoughts becoming public, it just fuels his hunger and makes him want to win that much more.