It's no longer a question of if but when for Tiger in his quest for No. 15

Brooks Koepka may have hoisted the Wanamaker Trophy, but Steve Carroll was blown away by the fireworks from Tiger Woods. The GOAT really is back and we should rejoice

Niki Lauda was burned alive in a Ferrari and came back to win two Formula One world championships.

Greg LeMond carried pellets in his liver and heart after being shot in a hunting accident. Two years later, he would once again win the Tour de France.

Ben Hogan broke just about every bone in his body when the car he was driving was smashed into by a bus. He’d win three majors in one season in 1953.

So let’s not get carried away. Had Tiger Woods capped his remarkable return this season by winning the PGA Championship, it would not have been the “greatest comeback in sport” as many seem so eager to claim.

But wouldn’t it have been sweet?

It is now surely no longer a question of if, but when, he finally posts number 15.

But for an errant couple of shots – when his round derailed at the 11th at Carnoustie and finally stalled at the 17th at Bellerive, Woods really could have won both The Open and the PGA.

Let’s put that in perspective.

Not even a year ago, he sat in a press conference before the start of the Presidents Cup and admitted he might never play competitively again.

The back that had been so shredded, so scarred by surgery after surgery, couldn’t even bear a ride in a golf buggy.

The road back looked so long.

Tiger Woods

Yet in the heat of battle, and the humidity of St Louis, it was the Tiger of old – a Tiger that intimidated, a Tiger that produced when the pressure was at its highest, a Tiger that will soon know what it feels like to win again.

Suddenly it seems unbelievable to remember that it has been 10 years since he last hoisted one of the four trophies that really matter.

Even after Carnoustie, though, even after a season that has seen him soar from the depths of obscurity back into the world’s top 30, there have been haters. There have been doubters.

For all of them, let me ask something. Weren’t you jumping out of your seat when that putt went in on 18?

Didn’t you feel the joy as that familiar fist pump punctured the air around that final green?

Have you ever seen a crowd like that – wedged in and between the grandstands – all united in their gaze at the figure proudly striding to the scorer’s hut?

Tiger Woods

Brooks Koepka won, and deservedly so. His elevation as a man for the major occasion is complete.

But this was a tournament that had still been destined to be forgettable, that had been blunted by stifling heat, indifferent greens and a worldwide audience carping about the coverage.

Woods helped provide a memorable climax.

With a flair for the dramatic, he took us through the mill. Somehow he was three under at the turn – a nine-hole stretch where he didn’t hit a single fairway.

But majors don’t start until the back nine on Sunday, if you’ll forgive me trotting out the old cliché, and it was here where Tiger really turned it on.

There was the tracer bullet at 12, an iron that buried itself within a yard of the cup. The approach at 15 was even better.

And then there was 18, a putt and a celebration that will join the great Tiger reactions even if it ultimately didn’t bring him the trophy.

Koepka has got the Wanamaker and his own slice of history. But Tiger has regained belief. He knows he can produce when it matters most.

His 64 was his lowest ever final round in a major. His total of 266 was the lowest in any major he has ever played.

He’d started bogey, double bogey.

So let us rejoice. Golf is the better for him being back in the game. But it’s even bigger for him being near the top of the leaderboards.

Read more

Previous article
Next article
Top