Nicklaus lovers got another face full of Tiger-dirt today in Orlando.
The greatest player in the history of the game did it again today, scratching his way back from a 5-stroke deficit and making birdie at the final hole to edge Sean O’Hair and win his first tournament since coming back from knee surgery last June.
It was typical Tiger.
He scrambled around on the back nine for two superb par-saves, including a dramatic up and down from 85 yards on the 16th hole when it looked like O’Hair was going to move back into the lead. Instead, O’Hair rinsed his 2nd shot in the pond fronting the green and Tiger’s par staked him to a one-shot lead, which he promptly gave back at 17 with a plugged tee-shot on the par-3 and a missed 15-footer that sent the two players to the last hole dead even at -4.
And then, at 18, like he always does, Woods proved all the doubters wrong. He buzzed a drive right down the middle on the finishing hole, then slid an 8-iron from 150 yards just left of the flag. After O’Hair coaxed his 30-footer to within 3-feet, Woods seized the moment and drained his putt for the win.
Easy enough, right?
Well, the last hole was played in near darkness. If you get a chance, check out The Golf Channel’s “live cam” look at the surroundings. Unlike the TV cameras – which show the proceedings at about 30% more light than really exists – the “live cam” shows the action in “live color”. It was nearly dark when Woods broke into his championship fist pump.
Go ahead and say it with me.
Tiger. Is. The. Greatest. Ever.
You won’t break out in hives.
It’s OK to say it.
Everyone knows it anyway, even if you don’t want to admit it.
No one’s ever done what Tiger’s done in the fashion in which he’s made it happen.
Today was another chapter.
Sean O’Hair was part of the story today, but in the end, it was, as it almost always is, about Tiger closing the deal when presented with the opportunity.
No player in golf – perhaps, in sports – has ever been able to make the shot that counts time and time again like Woods.
I admit, there have been plenty of times when I’ve watched Tiger with a “must-make” putt and I’ve said, “He’s not going to make this one…” — and he always seems to make them.
Today, as he lined up the 15-footer for the win, I typed a message on my Facebook page about Woods making the putt and put my finger on the “share” button. About 3 feet from the hole, I pressed it.
There was never a doubt.