Sunday, April 10, 2005

Nanny Nanny Boo Boo: They Still Can't Catch Tiger

With yet another inimitable display of carpe diem and a barely imitable fourth Masters title, Tiger Woods has ended his post-nuptial major championship winless streak at...zero. In his first appearance in a grand slam event since getting hitched, Tiger slipped on the world's only known coveted Green Jacket six months after slipping a wedding ring on the finger of Jesper Parnevik's former nanny, Elin Nordegren.

Cynosure Sunday, Tiger was far from perfect. In fact, it's hard to fathom the Tiger of the early Aughts when he was winning virtually tournament, major and otherwise, closing with back-to-back bogeys to moonwalk into a playoff. But while his swing isn't as foolproof as it was then, his moxie is, well, moxier than ever. The ability to hit shots and seize moments that other players simply can't helped separate Tiger then, and it's beginning to separate him again.

It's not that no one's ever birdied seven straight holes at The Masters...

Or that no one's ever turned a six-shot deficit into a three-shot lead in a span of 18 holes...

Or that no one's ever had the imagination and skill to play a shot from long and left of the 16th green off that signature slope and into the hole for an impossible birdie...

Or that no one's ever stumbled down the stretch but regrouped to win a playoff...

Or that no one's ever birdied 18 to win The Masters...

It's just that no one's ever done all that between breakfast and dinner. One day. Two unforgettable performances. Chris DiMarco's pluck was better than his luck: if Tiger's pitch had stayed perched on the edge of the cup at 16 and DiMarco's chip at 18 had dipped not lipped, Phil Mickelson could've slipped a Green Jacket on the very guy who gave him the read he needed to sink the winning putt in 2004.

Instead, DiMarco's gritty 68 only prolonged his agony, our viewing, and Mickelson's sartorial duty as defending champion. What a difference a year made for Mickelson. Twelve months to the day after one of the most memorable finishes in Masters history, Lefty found himself in the third to last group with Vijay Singh, who two days prior had played behind Mickelson and afterward accused him of excessively aerating Augusta National's greens with his 8-inch spikes. (Their post-round locker room tete-a-tete was later aerated to the press.) Then to top off the week, Phil had to coat his archenemy in what was surely the most uncomfortable public wardrobe exchange since last year's Super Bowl halftime show.

For all the talk of how his rivals have closed the gap, none of the other Big Four - Vijay, Mickelson, or Ernie Els - posed even the remotest challenge on this most major of weekends. All that talk of how his marriage to the former Miss Nordegren was destined to derail him from his quest to better Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 grand slam titles rings hollow today.

Now halfway toward that magical mark, Tiger gets to have his cake and Elin, too.

2 comments:

DJG said...

You just can't help pulling for the guy when everyone has written him off. I think the thing I relate to most with Tiger is that he plays out of trouble so well! I can't relate in golf, but my life often is played from the "rough"! (not that I don't hit the rough in golf, I just can't play out of it!!)

Joel Quile said...

Grant,

If you don't let me build you a website and display your work like the article you just wrote ... I'm writing you off.

Off Golf.

I mean it.

Wanna Bean it?

Obey my exhort.

Or get a new sport.

Like lawn darts - yeah thats the ticket.

You know whats coming next ...

Cricket!

Seriously. You've got to do this!