Tuesday, June 5, 2012
CONSISTENCY: For many of Tiger's recent rounds where he has been in contention for a win (Chevron, Dubai, Bay Hill) he was still wildly inconsistent. At Dubai, where he went into the final round with a chance to beat some of the world's best talent, Tiger missed fairway after fairway down the stretch. Not so at the Memorial. On Sunday, Tiger only missed one fairway and hit 14 of 18 greens in regulation (and birdied one of the greens he missed). That is what put him in position to win. He was dialed in off the tee and on the fairways, and didn't have to pull off any crazy shots to give himself a chance to make birdie. This is what I was talking about in my previous post about Tiger, and it looks like he listened.
COMEBACK: Unlike Tiger's first win at Bay Hill this year, Tiger had to work for this win. I'm not taking anything away from his first PGA Tour win in over two years, because I'm sure he had some serious doubts about his game going into Sunday with the lead, but nobody really challenged his lead in the final round. Tiger's lead fluctuated between three and five shots the whole round and he just sort of coasted to victory. On Sunday, Tiger needed to come back to win it. He had a sense of urgency and wasn't just checking holes off the scorecard. Every hole was an important opportunity to make birdie. He treated it as such and shot one of the lowest rounds on the course on Sunday (67) to take the two shot victory.
FOLLOW THE ROAR: Over the past two years, announcers have made a point of saying that golfers are no longer intimidated by Tiger. You could have fooled me. Rickie Fowler, paired with Tiger on Sunday and coming off of a win and two top-fives in previous tournaments, was demoralized by Tiger's surgical attack of the course and limped home with a 12-over 84. Meanwhile, Rory Sabbatini, who no doubt heard the roars after Tiger's big birdies, missed an important birdie putt to reclaim the lead after Tiger's amazing chip-in and duffed a five-wood on an easy par-five, settling for par where many had birdied. Sabbatini froze up the entire round and ended up exactly where he started at seven-under for the tournament. If people are no longer intimidated by Tiger, someone should tell Rory and Rickie.
FEEDING OFF THE CROWD: Again, at Bay Hill there was no real drama for Tiger. Memorial was quite the contrary. Tiger used the crowd support and energy to propel him to victory. I haven't seen him as animated as he was after his chip-in for a long time. After that, it was all over. High on adrenaline, he effortlessly birdied the 18th hole to put the tournament out of reach. With every Tiger win, his confidence grows and crowd support grows. Along with these two, so too seemingly does his ability to dominate on the golf course. Suffice it to say the rest of the season is going to be pretty fun. I'm glad I got my Deutsche Bank tickets early.
After injuries, swing changes, scandals, ups, downs and in-betweens, it finally appears that Tiger Woods is dialed in mechanically. Now that he is, all of the old key factors in memorable Tiger Woods moments appear to be returning too. Bay Hill was premature, but after Memorial it looks like we are on the precipice of seeing Tiger Woods take over again. Bandwagoners feel free to jump on at any time, the Donk and I have been here all along.