With the 2012 season on the PGA tour now upon us, the current state of golf is surrounded by question marks.
The biggest question of all is about the high expectations for Tiger Woods.
The world’s former number one player fell all the way out of the top 45 in the rankings this past year, a place that is very new territory to Woods since he turned professional.
In a season riddled by a divorce and frequent injuries—not to mention that Woods has not won a tournament since 2009—it was looking like 2011 would be another wasted year for Tiger as he continued his slow progress along the comeback trail.
Tiger then did what Tiger so often does, he accomplishes things that seem unlikely. In November, armed with a new swing, a new caddy and a new mindset, Tiger went down to Australia a week before the Presidents Cup and tied for third in what was his best tournament in almost a year.
Woods, who had been looked at as a very controversial captain’s selection by Fred Couples, then played a major role in the United States winning the Presidents Cup the following week.
That Presidents Cup week did not start out the way that Tiger had anticipated when he and good friend Steve Stricker were throttled 7 and 6 on the first day of matches. But, Tiger turned his week around and ultimately captured the clinching point for the Americans during Sunday singles.
He then capped off his season in dramatic fashion by winning the Chevron World Challenge in December.
Sure, it is a limited field event. And, sure, Tiger himself is the host. But in a who’s who of current and former Ryder Cuppers and being surrounded by many of the top 30 players in the world golf rankings, Tiger did what golf fans are so accustomed to seeing him do.
Trailing by one and walking up to the seventeenth green, Tiger found himself facing a twenty-foot uphill, right-to-left breaking putt to tie Zach Johnson going into the last hole. Tiger drilled the putt right into the darkness of the cup as fans roared throughout the course.
The stage had been set for Wood's classic finishing hole heroics.
After a picture perfect drive and a stellar second shot, Tiger sank a ten foot downhill birdie on the final green to best Johnson by one stroke and win his first tournament in just over two years. It was the first time in a long time that fans and experts alike got to see one of those patented Tiger fist pumps as the putt found the bottom of the cup.
Dressed in his Sunday red, Tiger’s facial expression as he made the putt seemed to show nothing more than relief and happiness. This win was the validation that Tiger needed after a swing change and a personal overhaul, a huge weight has been lifted off his shoulders.
With Woods first tournament of the year now a month away, questions remain about if Tiger really is on the rise to regain his number one position.
Can Tiger close in on Jack Nicklaus’s record of eighteen major championships?
Or, was this just a flash of brilliance from a former superstar?