Are there any golfers who can stand up to Tiger Woods when he brings his A-game to the course?
The answer in 2013 is a resounding no.
Whether it's his overall consistency, his infallible putting stroke or his desire to show everyone who the best golfer in the world is on an every-week basis, Woods seems certain to get the victory when he is on top of his game.
With his two-stroke victory over three other competitors at The Players Championship, Woods has already recorded his fourth victory of the season. This is the earliest in any golf season that Woods has been to the winner's circle this often.
When he was interviewed by NBC's Steve Sands following the victory, Woods refused to be satisfied and did not say he was at the peak of his game.
"I'm getting better" was the most he would allow when speaking on national television.
The final leaderboard shows that Woods shot a 70 in the final round and finished with a 13-under par total of 275. It also shows that Sergio Garcia finished well back in the pack at seven-under, in a tie for eighth place.
However, Garcia was tied with Woods for the lead after the 16th hole. Both Woods and Garcia had birdied the 16th, and Woods recorded pars on 17 and 18.
Garcia was not able to hold it together on those holes. He hit two balls in the water on the island green hole at 17 and another shot got wet at 18. Garcia, who had called Woods' golf demeanor into question on Saturday, simply fell apart.
Garcia may not like playing with Woods, but when you have designs on winning big-time tournaments like The Players Championship or one of the majors, you will have to contend with Woods.
That's the message for Garcia, Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson, Adam Scott, Bubba Watson and anyone else who wants to win one of the three remaining major championships.
Woods was not quite at his best in the Masters, but he still tied for fourth at Augusta. He will almost certainly bring his best game to the course at the U.S. Open, British Open and PGA Championship.
Perhaps he will be at his best in all three.
Woods has not won a major since capturing the 2008 U.S. Open in a memorable playoff with Rocco Mediate. He has been at 14 majors since then.
More than anything, he wants to eclipse Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 major titles won in a career.
It's been a long drought, but Tiger's ball-striking ability is simply astonishing. He hit a poor drive on 14 at TPC Sawgrass that ended up in the water, and he ended up with a double-bogey on that hole.
However, instead of falling apart the way Garcia did on 17 and 18, Woods simply took a deep breath, realized he was playing solid golf and kept his game together.
He knows how to win against the best competition in the world.
The victory was the 78th of his career, and it took place in his 300th tournament. In addition to tracking down the Golden Bear in major championships, he is now only four career victories behind Sam Snead for career championships.
Tiger Woods started the year 8 behind Sam Snead for the all-time @pgatour wins lead. In 7 starts this year, that's been cut in half.— Justin Ray (@JRayESPNGolf) May 12, 2013
When Woods was winning golf tournaments and racking up majors prior to the last five years, golf analysts regularly talked about the "Tiger intimidation factor."
He demonstrated in The Players Championship that the intimidation factor is back. Garcia spit the bit when he had a chance to fight it out down the stretch with Woods.
When plucky David Lingmerth was in a position to tie Woods for the lead on the 72nd hole, he was unable to convert a long birdie putt and ended up with a bogey to finish tied for second with Kevin Streelman and Jeff Maggert.
Woods is the best golfer in the world. He knows it, and so does the competition.
That's why he will end his major drought and get championship No. 15 this year.
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