Tiger Woods has gone through hell and back since that incident in November 2009. I’m not saying he didn't deserve it, but we watched him lose his swagger, his fans, endorsements and his marriage, all in the public eye.
In the golf world, we witnessed him lose his No. 1 World Golf Ranking. We saw a disheveled man who couldn't win a major if you spotted him five strokes. We saw Tiger as a shell of himself. As he withdrew from some tournaments and missed cuts in others, he was suddenly called “old” and “washed up” and was told that he would never break Jack Nicklaus’s record of 18 Major wins.
Jump ahead four years, and Tiger Woods is playing golf the way he’s used to playing. He’s putting extremely well, he’s confident, his bravado is back. Plus he’s in what seems to be a stable, happy relationship. All these reasons and more are why Tiger Woods will win the 2013 Masters and his first major since the 2008 U.S. Open.
Not only is Tiger doing well on the course, but he’s doing quite well for himself in his spare time. His new relationship with Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn has made him the happiest Tiger we've seen in a long, long time.
Don’t forget that Woods fell apart after his personal life was under scrutiny for a good part of two years between late 2009 through most of 2011. Now that Tiger has some peace outside of golf, he is able to concentrate on the course.
Confidence is Key
No matter how Tiger Woods is playing, the Masters is the one tournament that he shines at. While he was going through turmoil during the 2010 and 2011 PGA Tour seasons, Woods played some of his worst golf; he went winless in a calendar year, finished with his worst four-hole finish and lost his No. 1 ranking.
The only time Tiger looked like himself during troubling times was at August National. In both 2010 and 2011, Woods finished fourth in the PGA’s opening major tournament. No matter what is happening in Tiger’s private life, he always seems to be ready for the Masters.
Momentum is on His Side
2013 has been nothing short of spectacular for Tiger Woods. He has won the last two tournaments he has played in and has won three overall this season. With his last win at the Arnold Palmer Invitational two weeks ago, Woods reclaimed his No. 1 ranking from Rory McIlroy.
In golf, momentum changes from tournament to tournament. However, Tiger is making it seem like when he’s competing, nobody else can possibly hang with him. He’s playing at the top of his game this season and looks to ride the momentum until he has another green jacket.
It’s All About the Short Game
For the last few years, Tiger has lacked in the one area we thought he was dominant in: putting. After his marriage crumbled and his private life was under public scrutiny, Tiger lost his short game. Putts he could once make in his sleep weren't even close to the cup.
In 2010, Woods’ putting from inside 15 feet was just average; it was abysmal at further distances. All that has changed in 2013. Tiger is averaging almost one more birdie per round than he was in 2010. He’s averaging slightly over a 68 per round, down from a 70.32 average a couple years ago. Most importantly, he’s Top Five from putting inside 25 feet.
Tiger is taking advantage of his par fives; he’s ranked first making birdie or better almost 65 percent of the time.
Tiger is finally putting like the Tiger of old. Tiger should be able to continue his brilliant ways on the green when at a course he’s so familiar with, like Augusta National.
Who’s His Competition?
Last week, Tiger Woods’ odds to win the Masters were an unbelievable 11-4. Even though the odds slightly dropped to 5-2, Tiger remains the favorite ahead of Rory McIlroy, who has a 9-1 chance of pulling off the victory.
Tiger’s chances increase due to the fact that his competition has been lackluster in previous weeks. The top players in the world haven’t been playing on a top level. McIlroy has had a less than stellar 2013 season; he’s withdrawn from multiple tournaments and barely made multiple cuts.
Yes, Tiger has been dominant in golf this year, but the top players have yet to bring their A-game. And this year, their A-game might not be enough in a few days at Augusta.
Simply Put: Tiger Being Tiger
Tiger Woods is back. And he let it be known in one five-word ad.
“Winning Takes Care of Everything.”
That’s it. Five words. Five words that say Tiger doesn't care about anyone other than Tiger. In the past, the fake Tiger Woods walked around caring about his image. He had the perfect marriage, endorsements with Gillette and other non-sports companies—fans saw him as a role model.
As USA Today writer Christine Brennan puts it, Tiger Woods simply does not care anymore. He’s back doing what he wants to do, and he’s happy doing it whatever way he wants. He knows he’s the best golfer in the world again and the ad describing his ascension back to No. 1 proves that.
We all watched Tiger Woods for the last few years, wondering if he’ll ever be back to that braggadocios golfer who swore at every bad swing, stared you down and made clutch putts. There’s no more wondering now.
Tiger is back to dominate the 2013 Masters.
And it’s time for the rest of the golf world to just step out of his way.