Love him or hate him, the golfing world with Tiger Woods in it is a better place.
It was like the good old days watching him dominate from the outset during last weekend’s inaugural ZOZO Championship in Japan. Yes, there were a few bumps along the way – or to begin with – but the big cat quickly dialled in like only he can and stomped to victory with only Hideki Matsuyama able to mount a challenge. But a whimper stood no chance against a mighty roar.
It was a welcome reminder for those who thought his comeback wouldn’t go beyond Augusta’s manicured lawns in April.
To be fair, Tiger hadn’t done much since winning his fifth Masters title until a couple of days ago. His best result from six starts was a tie for ninth at the Memorial in June which preceded a withdrawal from the Northern Trust two months later citing a ‘mild oblique strain’. This, of course, reignited plenty of speculation about the state of his body but he was back in action a week later at the BMW Championship where he finished a disappointing T37 and 42nd in the final FedEx Cup standings.
A tweet confirming knee surgery towards the end of August once again had tongues wagging but the minor arthroscopic procedure was much-needed after his Masters triumph. Woods recovered quickly marking his return in a made-for-TV skins event in which he finished second behind Jason Day and ahead of Rory McIlroy and Matsuyama.
He teed it up in front of sold out crowds at the ZOZO days later and got off to a nightmare start bogeying his first three holes. In true Tiger-style however, he went on to make nine birdies signing for an opening six-under 64. Not even a typhoon could unravel the 43-year-old who held his nerve in trying conditions to finish on 19-under, three shots ahead of Matsuyama.
So you’d think his record-equalling win taking him to 82 PGA Tour victories alongside Sam Snead has silenced all those opposing his selection as one of the captain’s picks for this year’s Presidents Cup in Melbourne from December 9 to 15.
Most think Tiger Woods should pick Tiger Woods, right?
American sports writer and commentator John Feinstein believes that despite Tiger’s victory in Chiba on Monday morning, there are others who are more deserving of those four captain’s picks. He reckons Tony Finau, Gary Woodland, Rickie Fowler and Patrick Reed – ranked 8th to 12th on the Presidents Cup rankings respectively – all deserve the nod ahead of 13th-ranked Woods. And while on paper he might have a point, we all know that when Tiger’s in town, black and white means nothing and the beauty of grey always prevails.
All will be revealed next Monday, the 4th of November, and it will be interesting to see if this player has indeed captured enough of the captain’s attention. A Tiger’s share anyway and for now that will do.