Chicago Bulls

Tiger Woods: Why Lessons from Michael Jordan Should Tell Us Not To Doubt

AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 10:  Tiger Woods waves as he walks off the 18th green during the final round of the 2011 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 10, 2011 in Augusta, Georgia.  (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
Andrew Redington/Getty Images
Robert CotterCorrespondent IIApril 12, 2011

Tiger Woods is back...well almost.

Regardless of whoever won the Masters (I think his name is Charles or Charlie, maybe even Chuckster), the most important development from this weekend is that Tiger Woods is back, and when Tiger is back that’s bad news for every other golfer in the world .

While it was in fact Charl Schwartzel, who came away with the Green jacket last weekend, Tiger’s front nine was a Michael Jordanesque statement of “I’m back."

Tiger’s opening nine on Sunday was the stuff of legend with birdies on the 2nd, 3rd, 6th, 7th and an emphatic Tiger “&%$# you rest of the field” fist pump-eagle on the 8th. He had been left for dead, and all he did was erase a seven shot deficit in eight holes to get right back to the top of the leaderboard.

That’s all I needed to see.

Many people forget, but back in March of 1995, when Michael Jordan first came back to the Chicago Bulls, it wasn’t immediate success and dominance that followed.  In his initial return, he shot 7-28 with 19 points in an overtime loss to the Indiana Pacers. Sure, there were flashes of greatness, such as his 55 against the New York Knicks and his first buzzer beater in a win against the Atlanta Hawks, but in the playoffs, the Bulls were knocked out by the Orlando Magic in a series in which Jordan frankly didn’t look like Jordan.

For much of the past 17 months Tiger hasn’t looked like Tiger.

Formally a machine of perfection and dominance, Tiger has, during this span looked weak and vulnerable. Those who formally feared him have wasted no time criticizing his play and welcoming being paired against him.

Lessons of the past would tell us that probably wouldn’t be the smartest thing to do.

After the Orlando Magic knocked the Bulls out of the 1995 Eastern Conference Semifinals many were quick to end the Jordan reign of dominance, with then Orlando Magic guard Nick Anderson saying “45 isn’t the same as 23." Well, all Jordan did following that game was go on to win three more NBA championships, two more Most Valuable Player awards and cement his legacy as the greatest of all time.

It’s true that Tiger Woods has yet to return to the level of greatness he was at prior to his self-imposed layoff. At times he has looked scared mentally and beat up emotionally.  But what Tiger showed us on Sunday is that he is one step closer to becoming the Tiger Woods he once was, and I have a hunch that day will come pretty soon.

I think I can hear Phil Mickelson trembling in his Calloways right now.

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