Woods wins at last but is Tiger “back” this time round?
“That was a huge win for Tiger Woods today. Our game just got a whole lot more interesting,” scribed world number 11 Dustin Johnson on Twitter on Sunday after his fellow American dominated the field at Bay Hill to clinch the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
This theme is already being discussed just hours after former world number one Woods won his first PGA Tour event since September 2009 after a much publicised fall from grace towards the end of that year and at the beginning of 2010.
Like him or loathe him, there is no doubt the 14-times major champion does wonders for the game of golf. You only had to listen to the raucous crowd chanting his name around the 18th green a few hours ago to appreciate that.
So, will this yield a new era of dominance by Woods? Commentators and experts were abuzz during his final round on Sunday, some saying he is now swinging the club better than when he was winning majors back in the middle of the last decade.
There’s a way to go however to match the relentless streak Woods set off on in 2000-01, when he held all four major tournaments at the same time and looked unstoppable. Those days are long gone.
Nonetheless, with the American hitting shots like his towering 267-yard three iron to within 15 feet on the par-five 6th during his final round and more importantly wielding a red hot putter, who is to say this is not the start of another era of dominance?
One thing is for sure. The year’s first major at Augusta National cannot come quickly enough. Woods to be paired with the top two ranked players Luke Donald and Rory McIlroy in rounds one and two? No doubt the Augusta committee are busy thinking up some star-billed trios as we speak.
Woods is seeking a fifth green jacket and in the four years when he has clinched the opening major he has always won the tournament immediately beforehand. Nice omen. First there is just the small matter of dealing with the release of former coach Hank Haney’s book this week. Johnston was right all along. Golf has just got more interesting.
Picture: Tiger Woods reacts after winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational PGA golf tournament in Orlando, Florida, March 25, 2012. REUTERS/Brian Blanco