I’d like to think that whenever Tiger Woods does something, anything, I will find out about it pretty quickly.
Still, just to be doubly sure I use a Twitter account called @TWlegion to guarantee that I never miss out on the action. It’s an unofficial fan account and it’s fair to say they get very wrapped up in what their hero is doing. The tone is nothing if not enthusiastic.
A couple of examples for you from Sunday’s final round in The Players:
???Alright 14th. TW hates this hole. BUT NOT TODAY: BIG CAT STRIPES FAIRWAY.???
— Tiger Woods Legion (@TWlegion) May 13, 2018
?From 46 feet… INSANE PUTT. Tap in par. Tiger Woods is back.
— Tiger Woods Legion (@TWlegion) May 13, 2018
I would like to think that I have a relatively balanced view of the world but an hour in this particular – and entirely harmless – echo-chamber and I am ready to catch the next flight to Ohio in time for what will surely be Tiger’s return to the winner’s circle in the Memorial.
Meanwhile, in the comments section of just about any piece you see about Tiger – perhaps even this one – will be something along the lines of these, which appeared under Iain Carter’s balanced BBC Sport column about Tiger earlier in the week:
“Why the constant articles on TW. He’s had his day and it’s time to move on.” – Rieko
“More click bait by lazy bbc journalists … they will still be banging on when Woods is long gone ..if tiger was alive today blah blah.” – pcbs
And so it goes on. Depending on whether you were reading, for example, Jamie Corrigan in the Telegraph or Ewan Murray in the Guardian, Woods is either on the brink of winning a 15th major or his game is still miles short of where it was 15 years ago.
Either way, he engenders way stronger feelings than Webb Simpson, whose 2012 US Open win at Olympic is already virtually reduced to the status of a quiz question.
Simpson, though, led from the very front at Sawgrass, and never let the field get within four shots at any point on the final day. That is an incredible feat, and yet, when I try to picture him, the first thing that comes to mind is still him roofing the opening shot of the 2014 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles. How unfair is that when the man has just dominated the strongest field of the year?
At this rate, at least he will be able to exorcise that particular demon come September in Paris at Le Golf National.
Back to last weekend, and it seemed that most golf fans were praying for him to fall foul of TPC Sawgrass’s notoriously small and firm greens, if only to make the tournament more exciting.
Sawgrass is an unusual tour course in that it plays both hard and easy. Because it is relatively short and perfectly presented, on any given day there is always a score in the low-to-mid-60s out there, as Simpson proved – twice. At the same time, other players, generally the ones you have backed, will be struggling to scores in the high 70s, their cards pockmarked by sixes and eights.
If you look at the list of champions, you will see that a) it is an eclectic mix, with very few repeat winners, and b) it’s a course that clearly gives the shorter hitters – in relative terms – a chance. Including Simpson.
All of which makes Tiger’s eventual finish of 11th all the more impressive. If we stereotype Tiger’s golf in recent years, we think of crooked, inconsistent driving and a high right shoulder. We think of struggles to control distance. We think of his golf being punctuated by loose shots in a way it just never used to be.
But here, on what is quite frankly far from the kind of course he would obviously fancy his chances round, Tiger spent the weekend very much in position.
His driving is unrecognisable from earlier in the year – and much of the last decade – both in terms of distance and reliability.
Yes, the wedge shot that spun off the 14th green in the final round and turned a possible birdie into a bogey was calamitous in the circumstances, but his play more generally was close to vintage.
He is clearly becoming more tournament-sharp as the weeks goes by and it is instructive that even the GOAT is having to feel his way back in to winning at this level.
I personally continue to find it fascinating to watch, even if I am not quite as giddy as my friends at @TWlegion.
Sorry, web warriors Rieko and pcbs, to name just two, and Ewan Murray, and even Iain Carter, but I am on Jamie Corrigan’s side on this one. It is my professional opinion that Tiger wins again and I think that it will happen quite soon.
GO BIG CAT. NEVER COUNT THE GREATEST OUT. TIGER’S BACK.
Hang on – do you think @TWlegion will let me take over their account for an evening sometime?