The moment he holed the birdie attempt on 18, Twitter started going crazy and predictable headlines popped up shortly after. "Tiger is Back" was the general message to Woods' one shot victory in a 18 field unofficial tournament, called Chevron World Challenge.
However, the world had not challenged Woods this afternoon in California. The top golfers of the world had played earlier on Sunday in both Hong Kong and South Africa, the latter being another unofficial tournament that counted number one, three and four in the world plus a handful of major winners. In Asia world number two Rory McIlroy had won and number three Lee Westwood took the first prize in Sun City.
But who in the US cares what the real elite of golfers do, when Woods plays a little tournament on the west coast? And who cares about the best golfers in the world when Woods actually wins a fumble duel with an out of shape Zach Johnson that almost did not dare to go for the birdie on 18, somewhat afraid of the stampede crowd of die hard Tiger fans, that even had the good spirit of cheering when Johnson missed his birdie attempt for a possible playoff.
With a nervous swing and an average short game Tiger did just enough to win his first tournament in 749 days. It was not nice, even though the player outside top 50 in the world holed the two last holes to become number 22, but it was a thriller to the last stroke. It was almost the same scenario as the year before, except last year the guy putting to stay in the match with Woods was a player who did not give a hoot about who he was playing against. And besides he was lucky ... And unpopular. How dare some European from North Ireland come over here and disrespect our Tiger by actually holing two of the kind of putts only Tiger can hole?
That's all forgotten now. Tiger won, displaying how Sean Foley has almost succeeded completely with sucking all the feel and creativity that was left, out of the former world number one. And making him an average short game player, and a semi driver from tee that will probably retain a serious injury in about 24 months or so. But, hey, hush about that too. We will deal with that problem later. Because this day Tiger finally did what all reporters and fans has said he would do every time he attended a tournament for the last two years: He won!
And what does that make him? Back on track, that's what. No doubt. "Tiger is back" the headlines roared on the net Sunday afternoon. Some had even the clarity to wonder if this win is the beginning of a new Tiger Era. Woods had torn to pieces 17 players who had, for the most part, not played serious tour golf since the FedEx Cup ended. Good American golfers, no doubt, but comfortably en route to a Christmas vacation or in the middle of it, and aware of the situation that everyone wanted Tiger to win this damn thing. Throw in a few random internationals that actually cared to participate, and call it a World Challenge.
The only big challenge was to endure the entire 18 holes of this final. After having seen McIlroy win and consolidate his second spot in the world, by holing a bunker shot from 15 feet (in the US, shots like that are only called amazing and commented with enthusiasm when Tiger makes them). Following with Woods and Johnson, was a bit like watching the rematch in the unofficial 1992 World Championship in chess between Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky, 20 years after they had played the greatest match ever. Fisher's and Spassky's game was outdated and boring.
Tiger was insecure, went from new swing to old swing to new swing, was out of sync, was hitting bad putts, was afraid of his driver and uncomfortable with his game. Johnson made an effort, but was still burping after the Thanksgiving turkey, making it hard to stay sharp all the time. It was, what it was: A charity event. In the ”Silly Season”. And as such, it was great fun. But to call it anything else, and start chanting the "Tiger's Back" rant, is insane ... ludicrous at best.
Yet, all the Tiger fans, bloggers and the golf journalists began doing just that.
The headlines after Tigers victory were just as predictable as the ones before every tournament he has played in the last two years. Now, instead of explaining that "This is the tournament Tiger will win!", the golf sites now comes at you with things like: "Now, Tiger will win everything!"
Fact is, it won't happen. Woods has a long way to go before he can join the top of world golf again. But, try telling that to the masses who all drank the Kool-Aid.
Tiger gained some confidence on Sherwood CC, but from winning at Silly Season to go at it against the European world elite, who is not afraid of Tiger, is another story all together. Tiger will realize that when he comes to the Middle East next year.
Tigers fans will probably never realize anything having to do with the reality, so from now on, we will have to endure the "facts" stated by die hard Tiger fanatics.
Insanity is restored.