Since Tiger Woods sank his final putt on Sunday to secure his victory at The Memorial, a lot has been written about his dominating performance. Sunday night and Monday saw much media coverage of his victory, and it came after many in the golf media had been speaking about Tiger not being “the Tiger of old”, the “slump” he was in and questions about his ability to win. I wasn’t sure he could pull off a victory myself, an air of doubt permeating this blog post last week.
But per usual Tiger proved everyone wrong — again. Here are some highlights of his winning performance on Sunday:
- Perfect driving: 14 of 14 in fairways hit on Sunday
- Chip-in for eagle on #11 kick-started his back nine
- Birdied the par 5 15th to take the lead
- Bogeyed 16 to drop back into a tie for the lead
- Birdied 17 & 18 to take the lead for good and finish with a 7-under 65 and the 1-shot victory
Sunday was another one of Tiger’s masterful performances, but he didn’t stop there. Tiger added to the media frenzy Monday morning by playing a practice round at Bethpage Black in preparation for next week’s U.S. Open. Word quickly spread at Bethpage that Tiger was on the course, which sent players scurrying with their cell phone cameras to try and get a glimpse of the great one. Check out Golf Digest’s coverage of his practice round including two videos.
As I watched his victory live on Sunday, my take was that this was vintage Tiger on the prowl, as well as post-surgery Tiger sending a message to the golf world. It’s like he was saying, “I am Tiger Woods. I am here. And I never went anywhere in the first place.” Let’s face it, he (post-surgery Tiger) is the same guy — the same focused, dominating athlete.
Along with his eagle on 11, and the birdies on 17 and 18 that were key to his victory, most notable in my mind was the approach shot he put a foot from the flag on 18. After the towering 9-iron that set up his birdie at 17, the 7-iron at 18 was not just another stroke of brilliance, it was the exclamation point on Tiger’s statement to his recent critics. That shot on 18 was reminiscent of several unforgettable tournament-closing moments created by the very same “Tiger of old” the media had been referring to:
- 2000 NEC Championship: The “Shot In The Dark” — complete with flash bulbs and lighters — on the final hole at Firestone CC (yesterday’s shot was Firestone in the daylight)
- 2000 Bell Canadian Open: The 6 iron from the bunker on 18 at Glen Abbey – perhaps his greatest clutch shot ever
- 2008 Arnold Palmer Invitational: The wining putt — complete with “hat spike”
- 2008 US Open: His putt on the 72nd hole at the US Open at Torrey Pines last year — perhaps his greatest clutch putt ever
- 2009 Arnold Palmer Invitational: Again sinking the putt on the 72nd hole for the victory earlier this year
Of course there are many others memorable Tiger moments — too many to mention here — but yesterday’s victory is right up there with the best of ‘em. We’ll just have to wait and see if Tiger has another unforgettable closing moment in store for us on the 72nd hole at Bethpage Black next week. If you’re like me (now), you won’t bet against it.