Tiger Woods To Return To Form and Fame In US Open At Pebble Beach

David F. BaerCorrespondent IJune 16, 2010

PEBBLE BEACH, CA - JUNE 16:  Tiger Woods hits a tee shot during a practice round prior to the start of the 110th U.S. Open at Pebble Beach Golf Links on June 16, 2010 in Pebble Beach, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

Once upon a time on a PGA Tour far, far away, played this young golfer named Tiger Woods. The year was 2000 when young Woods put on the greatest performance in a major event in golf history, when he annihilated his competition, and won by a record 15 strokes.

His victory at the U.S. Open in 2000 was the start of the Tiger Slam, as it would later be known as. He won the final three majors of 2000, and the 2001 Masters, making him the reigning champion in all four majors at the same time.

But Woods isn’t the same person now that he was then.

A lot has changed since Tiger won the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach in 2000, both around the world, and in the golfing world as well.

2000 — the millennium, Y2K — was a decade ago, and while Woods has had success on a golf course more recent than 2000, it certainly doesn’t feel that way.

The infamous car accident-turned-public scandal in November 2009 shocked the world, as Woods found his name on the cover of celebrity gossip magazines more often than he did Sunday leader boards.

The situation got so bad he entered rehab, his swing coach 'quit,' and became the laughing stock of golf, and the entire sports world for that matter.

So perhaps with Phil Mickelson in a position to take over the spot as the No. 1 golfer in the world this weekend at the U.S. Open, Woods is in a perfect position to recapture his glory and his fans.

Woods once won this tournament on a busted leg. He has done things no other human ever has because he’s just that good. He’s grown up and matured in the public eye, as well as the golf course.

In recent weeks, he tells reporters how he’s not as young as he used to be and how his speed has reduced. But don’t you worry, Tiger will be Tiger; he’ll make adjustments, relentlessly practice, and one day return to glory.

For Tiger, his fans, and golf fans everywhere, that day might be upon us.

The last time we saw Tiger play Pebble Beach for the Open, he was the only player in the entire field to shoot under par. He finished 12 strokes under, while the next closest people —Miguel Angel Jimenez and Ernie Els — were three strokes over par.

So why not Pebble Beach, why not this weekend? Woods is saying he feels good, and he’s hitting the ball well. When Tiger wins the U.S. Open, he seems to do it in historic fashion.

In 2008, he won the tournament in a playoff,and on one leg. In 2000, he made history.

Pebble Beach will always be remembered as the site of his historic 15-stroke victory in 2000. It was perhaps the best win of Tiger’s illustrious career. But with the U.S. Open returning to this hallowed site in 2010, Woods is surely going to be the target for criticism and comparison.

‘…Look at how far he’s come...and how far he’s fallen…’

Woods, when it’s all said and done, might be the greatest golfer of all time. Perhaps he all ready is. Maybe he was two years ago, but he isn’t anymore. This weekend, none of Tiger’s past achievements, accolades, and accomplishments will matter at all.

Tiger went from the most popular and praised athlete on the face of the planet, to the most criticized, hated, and disliked one. If he’s going to recapture his glory and remake his image, playing well and competing isn’t going to cut it.

He needs to be himself and remind us of the old Tiger, the one who captured the attention and hearts of the golf world, like he did in 2000 at Pebble Beach.

This weekend, in his return to Pebble Beach, he needs to play like Tiger Woods again.

He needs to win.