Hes putting the pressure on his opponents to play the same way, and they havent been able to yet, though David Duvals Sunday 67 clearly was admirable, perhaps a portent of whats to come. Phil Mickelson, though, freely acknowledges that hes making too many unforced mistakes. Tiger essentially wears his opponents out. Exposes weaknesses. He hasnt any that we can see.
On the infrequent occasions hes not these days methodically grinding out victory, Tiger is able to turn potential trouble into sudden triumph. His Buddhist faith mother recounts that when Tiger was a child she would tell him after he had made a mistake to remember you are human, that no ones perfect. Take that anger you feel, she shared with him, and channel it to good use on your next shot. Sunday, after a bogey at 12, Tiger hit perhaps his best tee ball of the week, the all important final round drive at the par five 13th.
That shot also speaks to Tigers level of preparation. When he says hes trying to peak for a major, that means at home hes practicing the hard, right to left 3 wood that he would ultimately unfurl at that most critical moment. The knockdown he hit into 11 had also been rehearsed somewhere along the line, and once delivered, it was the with the type of vision and artistry which would have made Hogan, Trevino, Nicklaus, Jones and all of the great shotmakers smile knowingly.
He continues to make the knee knockers with stunning consistency, where the pursuers more often miss the absolute, must have chances.
Of course it follows that those who would attempt to beat Woods will go to greater lengths to make it happen. Practice more, try harder, reach higher. The players will improve, the battles will be closer, the drama heavier.
We as fans benefit because well get a consistently entertaining product.
The challengers to Tiger benefit because the worldwide road show starring the Muhammed Ali of our time will need characters and foils and all manner of bit players like those of us in the swelling legion of press members. All involved will reap bigger financial windfalls than any of their predecessors ever dreamed possible.
Granted, victory, not money, is ostensibly what Phil Mickelson wants at this point, but it must be satisfying to know that the all consuming effort is handsomely rewarded.
It is no longer hyperbole to suggest that Tiger Woods is the most perfect blend of mind, body and soul the game has ever known.
Magnificently sculpted, hes also supple, quick like a cat, powerful and explosive like a halfback hitting the hole for a seven yard gain.
His physical presentation should have a profound impact on the game. Future players will look like him.
The outside world will be less likely to look at golf in stereotypical fashion, a sport not particularly athletic at a quick, visceral glance. That has radically changed.
The newest, greatest athlete in the world plays golf not basketball. Fascinating to wonder what could possibly come along in the next 50 years thats better in this or any sport than Tiger? Imagine where hell rank in the year 2099 on the list of greatest athletes of this coming 100 year period. Wish we could be around because thatll be a sight to behold if it gets any better than this.