Golf's Big Roar
Will Tiger Woods shatter Jack Nicklaus' Majors record? Get over the gossip asthe golfer eyes history
The doubters are already trying to rally, to paint Tiger Woods' easy victory at Bay Hill as some sort of momentary blip. It's only one tournament, they cry. He still isn't any closer to Jack, they remind.
Hogwash. And you get the sense that most of them know it too.
Tiger Woods was always going to come back. Jack Nicklaus' record for Major wins was only enjoying a temporary reprieve. This idea that Woods wouldn't reach and pass 18 because he'd driven himself off course when he drove into the fire hydrant on that fateful November night always rang out as more laughable than real.
Woods is fine, and he's always been fine when it comes to golf. He'll win at least one Major this year, and don't discount the idea of him snaring two.
Every golfer — even the legends or legends — goes through a slump at some point in their career. Nicklaus only won one major in four years in one stretch (1976, 1977, 1978, 1979). He won only one in another three-year stretch (1967 through 1969).
Tiger's slump just happen to coincide with his outing as Don Draper-level philanderer and the destruction of his marriage. That link was always more happenstance than cause and effect.
Woods is fine, and he's always been fine when it comes to golf. He'll win at least one Major this year, and don't discount the idea of him snaring two, which would send the hype spiraling back into overdrive. Nicklaus' record is as endangered as ever.
Nicklaus knows better than anyone. He "came back" from his four-year lag to win two Majors in 1980 — though he never had to answer as many "slump" question as Tiger has. Snapping his PGA Tour victory drought at 923 days and 27 tournaments wasn't as important as how Tiger did it. With ease.
"I just never got close to him," second place Graeme McDowell said in the press conference.
Sound familiar? There's been a lot of boasting from other PGA Tour pros on how they no longer fear Woods. Just wait till he wins a few more. That fear isn't as close to as dead as many think.
The side effect of Tiger's return to winning is that golf suddenly matters again. TV ratings for NBC's golf skyrocketed Sunday while the competing NCAA Tournament (one of the least interesting Big Dances in recent memory) plummeted. You don't want to be competing against Tiger for eyeballs either.
His win brings more attention to golf and any tournament that follows. Reporters will surely be out at Houston's upcoming Redstone tournament to ask Phil Mickelson about Tiger, adding to the buildup of a tourney that always lures mammoth galleries.
There is nothing like Tiger — even if he's just a shadow from afar.
I've covered Michael Jordan in his prime, had a press box perch for the New York Yankees' run of four World Championships in five years and been at some classic NFL playoff games, but none of those compare to the electricity of covering Tiger Woods in the 2008 U.S. Open when he won that 90-hole marathon on one leg at Torrey Pines. Tiger Woods is the transcendent athlete of our times.
The days of being able to discount him as the ultimate champion will be long gone soon. Tiger Woods is still set to bulldoze Jack. As he always was.