While watching Tiger Woods win his third PGA Tour event of the season (tops on the tour) and 74th all-time tournament title, moving past Jack Nicklaus into second place on the all-time wins list, I think I heard more than one CBS analyst or commentator say, "That looks like the Tiger we've all known in the past." Let's hope not.
I don't mean that in terms of his competitiveness. Golf is definitely better, and a whole lot healthier with a championship-contending Tiger Woods. If Tiger is winning tournaments, people are watching golf and paying attention to it. If Tiger is winning majors, golf is on the front burner of the sports world. And there's the rub.
The "Old Tiger" was winning majors, but he was also the surly, sullen, combative, somewhat-confrontational Tiger who later admitted to an entire galaxy of personal problems. Eventually, the changes he proposed to make in his personal life affected his competitive balance, as well as a difficult knee injury and subsequent surgery prior to the disasters in his personal life. He has undergone more swing changes and reinventions of his game in the past five years than most pro golfers have to undertake in a career. But as we all know, Tiger is unlike any pro golfer we've ever seen--perhaps unlike any pro athlete we've ever seen. (By the way, if you're one of those people who think golfers aren't athletes, do a little more research into the physical regimen they have to undertake to compete on the tour on a weekly basis.)
What golf fans (those who don't dislike Tiger) want to see is not the "Old Tiger" in its entirety. What they want is that competitive fire on the back nine on a Sunday afternoon, especially in the major championships as he tries to chase down the five major titles he would need to pass Nicklaus for the all-time majors record of 19. To a certain extent, we saw that yesterday. What could transpire in the coming months could be must-see TV--at least for golf fans.