When the news first broke 10 days ago that Tiger Woods was considering playing in last week’s Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, I instantly decided I was going to the event.
Since I first saw Woods at the 1997 Masters, he has been my favorite player. I’ve had the chance to follow his group on a few occasions since then — the 2011 and ’12 PGA Championships at Atlanta Athletic Club and The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island, respectively, and this Sunday at the Wyndham.
Up until this week, every time I’ve followed Woods has been on a Thursday or Friday, before the cut and too early to tell who is legitimately in contention for a win.
I’ve followed players like Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler on Sunday’s before, but had never had the pleasure of chasing Tiger through 18 holes of golf on a Sunday when he was in contention.
I had that opportunity this Sunday and for much of his opening nine it looked as if I might get rewarded with not only a win, but somewhat of a historic win as one would have gotten him out of his two-plus year slump.
Throughout the opening nine at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, Woods battled and kept himself in contention with an even-par 35. But as most people probably know by now, things took a turn for the worse on the back with a triple bogey at the 11th.
As we know now, and as I sensed when it happened, this mishap put him out of contention for the title as he fell seven shots behind eventual winner Davis Love III.
But while this hole ended up denying Woods a shot at a win, it also proved to be what I think will be a defining moment in his return back to prominence.
When he dropped to 10 under for the tournament and three over on the day and a win was nowhere in sight, it would’ve been easy to just pack it in for seven more holes, get out of town and start preparing for next season, which begins in October.
Instead, he fought back with three birdies to finish even for the day and a respectable tie for 10th finish, his first top 10 of the year.
The way Tiger grinded out his round despite obviously lacking his top stuff reminded me of what he used to do on his rare off days.
Throughout the course of this challenging year for Woods, people have questioned whether the man who’s on the short list for greatest player ever is done.
Woods has looked like a shell of his former major-championship-winning self this season, but I think this week showed he still has what it takes to compete for titles.
He still has a lot of work to do, but I can see this past weekend being a springboard for a successful 2016. It may just be August, but man I’m ready for Augusta.