We’ve said it before, and now we’re saying it again: Tiger is coming back. On the heels of the announcement that Tiger has registered to play in the US Open at Oakmont, here we are. The question of whether we’ve seen the end of Tiger has been asked at least a million times in the last six years. What has been lost in the past few years, with the injuries, and the whole “sex-addicted, hooker banging cheater” revelation, is that old Tiger was one of the most incredible, lights out, ice-cold phenomena that I’ve ever seen.
Like with all things, time has dimmed the memories of what he really was. Every Masters weekend is littered with the clip of Tiger holing out at number 16, and it gives me the nostalgia chills every time. And I need that live feeling just one more time.
Between the rise of young athletic golfers like Rory and Dustin Johnson (even skinny-fat guys like Rickie & Spieth), and the previously mentioned personal baggage, Tiger is being forgotten for what he was, especially by the younger generation of golf fans who may not have been as aware during his prime. Yes, his prime, a successful peak of domination which is surpassed only by his domination of the national hooker scene during the same period. While a great ESPN piece just came out focusing on the fall of Tiger, all I want is to remember the greatness and have it back, if only for 72 holes.
Tiger was responsible for making a whole new generation of young sports fans, including a nine-year-old me, to start following golf. He was an absolute game changer from the start, a bi-racial young guy who was in supreme physical condition in an era where John Daly was only considered mildly out of shape. While most golfers now can often be found in the gym (bless you Miguel Angel Jimenez, never change), Tiger was an anomaly early in his career. He just dominated, and he made golf cool again.
Tiger was everywhere. It’s odd now not calling EA Sports’ yearly PGA entry anything other than just Tiger Woods, and the Rory name just isn’t the same. He’s up there with John Madden in having a wildly successful video game associated with his name. Well, Tiger, Madden, and Shaq for the legendary “Shaq Fu.” Tiger got his own damn version of Gatorade, which honestly seemed to taste better than the others, even post-scandal, when we all joked that it was actually just Gatorade mixed with hooker sweat.
Tiger was so flush with endorsements that he spent more time on my TV than
interracial porn SportsCenter. He was Tag Heuer, Nike, and Wheaties (which are still a thing btw, hang in there you bland bastards). He was even the first overall pick of the first ever Racial Draft, linking him to another lost cultural icon from the early 2000s that’s also making a comeback. Need more Chappelle.
On the course, there was nothing quite like the experience of watching Tiger in his Sunday red & black ensemble, charging down the back nine of a major like a stone cold assassin. 14-1 when going into the final round of a major with at least a share of the lead, Tiger was as close to a sure thing as there can be in sports.
Even when someone was having a solid final round, there was always the sentiment that Tiger was lurking, and he was going to bring it home, culminating in the epic “Tiger Woods Fist Pump” which can now be effectively used in any successful situation. Seriously, anything from a solid business meeting to a negative pregnancy test.
He owns a laundry list of records and incredible accomplishments culminating in the major victory that actually started the slow decline of his career, winning the US Open on what was basically one leg. The subsequent surgery, repeated injuries, improvement of the rest of the field and failure to cover his sleaze-tracks have resulted in the erosion of the most unstoppable force in sports.
If you took a listen to this week’s episode of Touching Base, you heard our own Dave discussing how much he wants another major from Tiger, and I’m right there with him. I just want one more to experience the nostalgia of the man who inspired Ron Swanson’s post-sex attire to charge down the back nine tied for the lead ready to give an 18th hole fist pump.
Hate him for his personal indiscretions all you want, but it’s almost indescribable to watch that man stride down the fairway all business after bombing a drive knowing he’s within range of putting it on in two. On Sunday at a major it seemed like Tiger couldn’t miss a clutch putt, and every trip to the bunker was followed by an incredible shot that flirted with the hole.
I’m not asking for Jack’s record. I’m not asking for another Tiger Slam. I’m not asking for a return to world number 1. I just want one more Sunday in contention. One more time where I get to watch the most dominant athlete in the history of professional sports stare the competition in the eye and let the rest of the field know that he’s not losing today. Give em hell at Oakmont, Tiger..