With Tiger Woods’ five shot victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill on Sunday, most of the golf world breathed an enormous sigh of relief, but certainly no more than Tiger himself, a man who has struggled mightily to regain his form and his confidence, ever since he crashed into that tree and lost his marriage and the respect of many.

I have had mixed feelings since Tiger’s fall from grace.  I think I was most angry at the joy he took from me as a fan.  I always took special delight in seeing Tiger dominate his opponents. I particularly savored his wins over media-created, faux-rivals, like Phil Mickelson.

Tiger Triumphs!

The question most golf fans are asking now is the obvious one.  Is Tiger back?  While it’s more complicated than a simple yes, he sure looked like the guy we’ve seen before.

He wore his intimidating red shirt, his drives were generally straight and he once again was sinking puts like his father taught him.

He played well when everyone else didn’t. He was the only player under par on Sunday.

Most people including his fellow golfers certainly hope they saw the real Tiger Woods.

Tiger’s return to form has been coming for a while now.  His closing round 62 a couple of weeks ago, was an indication that he was headed in the right direction, but when he injured his Achilles a week later, doubts about his overall health and prospects returned.

Tiger is the only golfer who matters to the average fan, to the TV networks, to the sponsors and his peers.  While Tiger struggled, the last two and a half years, so did golf.  Ratings were off significantly.  And despite claims that other golfers would fill the void, none did.  It was a costly absence for everyone.

By winning his 72nd official PGA Tour tournament Sunday, Tiger is now just one victory away from his idol Jack Nicklaus’ career wins total of 73 which is second all time behind Sam Snead’s 82.

And although he is still four wins shy of Nicklaus’ major victory total of 18, it no longer looks like winning more majors is a remote possibility for Tiger.  His next major win could come in two weeks at The Masters.

 

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