Very few athletes dominate their respective sport and their opponents the way Tiger Woods casts his shadow in golf.
Woods is among the very best to ever play his sport even when he is playing as dreadful and as awful as he can possibly play. The final round at this year’s Masters was a prime example of just how good Woods can be even he is terrible.
Woods began the day at -8 under par. He knew he had to get off to a good start if he was going to have a shot at another green jacket.
Tiger however did everything he could possibly do to take himself out of contention.
Woods initial drive of the day, could have also possibly have been the worst drive in his entire career, sailed over the adjacent fairway. Tiger failed to recover and started the day off with a bogey.
The next four holes were unkind to the former Masters Champion as he carded two additional bogeys on the 4th and 5th holes to bring him to -5 under par.
Woods likely knew at that point that he had no realistic chance to win the tournament.
The week had been long and the media spotlight had been hot. Who could blame him for falling short of another major championship and falling back into the middle of the pack?
Augusta National Chairman Billy Payne had called him out publicly to chastise him about his marriage infidelity prior to the start of the championship.
A plane flying overhead, made sure that the last person in America who was unaware of Tiger’s unfaithfulness became aware of his failures with its banner trailing behind asking Tiger if he was a disciple of “bootyism.”
Woods detractors had to enjoy what they were seeing with Tiger dropping out of sight on the leader board after five holes of golf on a Sunday at a Major. Finally, the public ridicule, humiliation and scorn that Woods had experienced were finally catching up to him. Would Woods melt in the Georgia sun and have an incredible collapse on one of the biggest stages in golf?
No. Tiger again showed us why he is not like most of us mere mortals on the golf course.
Tiger picked himself and righted his ship to somehow manage over the last 13 holes to lower his score to -11 under, leaving his detractors upset over not seeing Woods being brought to his knees.
Could any other golfer on the tour have carded five bogeys on a Major Championship Sunday afternoon and wind up in red numbers at the end of the day? How many players would have withered after playing so poorly to start their round?
Yes, after being away from golf for five months, Tiger finished tied for fourth. Woods could have won his fifth green jacket, instead the honor went to Phil Mickelson.
How bad was Tiger? He was awful as he had five bogeys on the day.
How good was Tiger? He was very good as he had four birdies and two eagles on the day.
Tiger has once again served notice that despite all of the emotional baggage and turmoil off of the greens, he is the best golfer in the world.
Woods has already begun to be chastised for losing his composure after a couple of poor shots. He will also likely rue the decision to green light the Nike advertisement featuring the voice of his late father.
Seriously, did anyone at Nike think about how parody rich their ad would be in the "YouTube" world? Nike gurus; I want to know what you were thinking about using the voice of Earl Woods?
Of course, if Woods can play this well at Augusta upon his return to professional golf, there is no reason to believe that his Teflon armor won’t hold up later this year. As inconceivable as it was to believe in the middle of December last year, Tiger appears to be capable of adding another major championship to his mantel this year.
Tiger is back where he belongs, casting a long shadow on the golf course.