Tiger Makes Return a Scary Proposition

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It was the worst news you could deliver to the PGA Tour rank-and-file. Tiger Woods is back, and it looks like he is better than ever. If you are going to win this year, its best to do it the 25 or so tournaments where you wont see him ' Tigers still playing in only 20, right?
 
A lot of people ' myself included ' figured it might take two or three tournaments for Tiger to get the motor started and completely warmed up. It may, but Lord help us if it does. What he did in Southern California, to a pretty good field at the Buick Invitational, should have been witnessed by adults only. You dont want a child to see carnage like that.
 
We havent seen him alongside Ernie Els yet this season. Ernie won the first two on the U.S. tour, then high-tailed it the Pacific Rim. He has wreaked devastation every place hes been in 2003, winning four times and losing a fifth on the 72nd hole. That was supposed to be pretty good.
 
Tiger noticed ' you bet he did. But then he came out after nine weeks of surgical rehabilitation and blew away the field in San Diego. We didnt see Ernie there, but in a month or so, they will cross swords. It appears that Mr. Woods is not going to give up his wrist-lock on golfs top rung easily.
 
The knee appears to be fine. Does that mean that last years five-win season is only an aberration, a figure so puny that it would have been twice that amount if he were walking on two good pins? The knee appears sound and that can only mean more trouble to the tour clan, who were getting downright boisterous in Tigers absence.
 
I mean, hes in another league, said Arron Oberholser, who used to know Eldrick when Woods was still mortal. Hes in another league from Ernie, in my opinion.
 
Oberholser played junior golf with a young Tiger Woods. He can remember two times when he beat Woods. Well, he can only remember once, but he thinks there was another time. But those days are from another era, apparently, an era when a young Tiger was still beatable.
 
Oberholser addressed the media on Saturday, and he had just about already conceded the w. So he hit nine fairways (out of 24) and hes 8-under par ' OK? Thats good, he said, over-emphasizing something here.
 
News flash. I mean ' the rough is five inches, six inches in spots. I mean, the guy is a beast. Hes strong. I mean, he can maneuver his golf ball out of the rough, out of six-inch rough. Thats impressive.
 
Phil Inferior Equipment Mickelson isnt conceding ' God bless him. Phil is still thinking there has got to be a way to beat Woods, though at age 32, there has to be periods of doubt every now and then. But Mickelson bravely, staunchly, juts his chin out and trudges along, knowing that the day he lets his guard down and concedes that Tiger is better ' well, you know what happens next.
 
Tigers level of play - we all know that hes not a hundred percent this week. And yet, hes still atop the leaderboard, he said.
 
So that kind of tells us that we have a lot of or an area where we need to get better to keep pace.
 
Tiger WoodsUnfortunately, that is not always possible. There are a lot of areas in my game that I would have to improve to be on a par with Tiger ' areas that I could practice from now until I go to glory but will never reach. And neither will Mickelson ' though, to his credit, he refuses to concede. If he ever does, that is the day he will be playing only for second place.
 
I wanted that challenge, Mickelson of the final-group pairing with Woods. I wanted to have the opportunity to play with Tiger, and if you ever watch him or compete against him when hes in the final group and playing pretty good, hes very impressive. And I enjoy that challenge ' to try and catch him.
 
Theres no telling how many more tournaments Mickelson might have won were it not for Tiger ' no telling how history would have regarded him differently. But that is the story of the PGA Tour today. That has been the story the last five years, and it will be the story at least another 10 years. Tiger is simply Tiger, and there has never been another one like him.
 
Realted Links:
  • Full Coverage of the Buick Invitational
  • Tiger Woods Bio
  • More on Tiger Woods