Since last Thursday, Tiger-mania has fully taken over Florida. As an outside salesman, I travel all over the state meeting with production managers, CEO’s and installers from all sorts of different cultures and backgrounds. The amount of conversations that revolved around Woods and “the cut” and “being back” and “hoping he wins” was astounding. Customers that I’ve never bonded with before suddenly wanted ME to take a seat in their office to discuss their weekend plans to head down to Tampa just to get a quick glimpse of Tiger.
On Thursday and Friday, the question “do you know how Tiger’s doing?” was the only sales pitch I needed to nail down business.
When an athlete can transcend his sport and be the lone topic of conversation for a bunch of boat-loving, gator hunting, race-car junkies who wouldn’t describe themselves as “golf lovers” is incredible.
If Tiger Woods’ was knocking at the door heading into the Valspar Championship, he knocked that sombitch open on Saturday and Sunday. Record crowds gathered all weekend, following the former No. 1 golfer in the world, hoping to see him dial up a performance from the past. A performance that looked like the ones before all the failed comebacks before it. The spinal fusions. The pain. The controversies. The DUI.
Before golf was work.
Tiger battled and progressed all weekend and for the first time in years, the field knew he was on the prowl. Even when his irons and putter weren’t working on Sunday (his misses weren’t “those” kind of misses), the magnetism that only he creates was back. You could feel the energy through the TV.
There was even an energy at Top Golf, where you could hear audible gasps, groans and cheers with every shot he (and sometimes, Patrick Reed by mistake) took.
That’s why Tiger still matters. When is the last time you watched multiple rounds of the Valspar Championship without wanting to take a nap? When was the last time you watched multiple rounds of the Valspar Championship and it sounded like Game 7 of the NBA Finals game?
God bless Justin Thomas if he has to match up against Tiger on a Sunday in a major.
For weeks now, Tiger has been telling us all that if he can just continue to tweak his game, if he can stay away from the “stupid” mistakes we saw at the Honda Classic, if he can create and stay in rhythm for an entire weekend, that he can play at a championship level, consistently, once again.
I think that all came together this weekend.
Did you see Tiger nail a 40-footer on the 17th hole to come within one of the leader on a Sunday AND smile? Did you see that freaking smile?
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) March 11, 2018
I screamed “There you are, Peter” at the top of my lungs when I saw that.
The energy is back. The fun is back. The qualities that have always made him so unique, are all back.
And even if he didn’t win this past weekend at a tournament that nobody really cares about, you can mark it down in pen that Tiger’s BACK.