I admit it. When Tiger's back, I'm back, and by that I mean, I'm glued to the set, watching every drive, every putt...or, more recently, every grimace, and every bad chip. Doesn't matter. Seven years removed from his last major win, and 18 months removed from his last win, period, Tiger is still great for the game of golf. This opinion, of course, doesn't fly with everyone. Diehards disagree, old schoolers remind us he'll never be Jack, and fellow tour pro's? They shake their heads and publicly scoff at how their galleries immediately shrink every time Tiger tees up again.
But the fact is, he's the greatest player of our generation, arguably the second-best player of all time, and certainly the most influential player since Arnie, while not nearly as beloved.
Woods may never win another major, but from 1997-2007 he was so dominant, so dynamic, he transcended sports. He could crush an opponent's confidence, and in some cases, career (see: David Duval). It was greatness, pure and simple. Something that just doesn't come along very often.
Which brings me back to the renewed excitement I feel every time he bounces back from injury and enters a tournament. It's not about nostalgia for me. It's about the possibility of catching a glimpse of that greatness again. Sure, the playing field has more than leveled since Tiger's reign. But every once in a while he feels physically good for four days, and shows us how it used to be. Happened at the Bridgestone Invitational just two years ago, when he put a 61 on his card in round two, and won at Firestone for the 8th time. Critics forget that he won five times on tour that year. Two years ago. Now, to some, he's a has-been.
He'll never rule the golfing world as he did in the past, but to me, he's Must-See TV. And at Augusta, where he's won four times? Nothing is more intriguing. The Masters may be one tournament that doesn't need a draw to attract viewers, but it's still not Tiger-proof. The ratings will triple if Woods is in contention over the weekend. And I'll be watching, along with about 20 million others.