What a difference one year makes.
At this time last year, Tiger Woods was abandoning the WGC-Cadillac Championship after just 11 holes due to an ailing left Achilles Tendon.
On Sunday, in the same tournament and on the same course, Woods completed all 72 holes in dominant fashion to win his 76th PGA Tour event of his career.
The World Golf Championships have been extra sweet to Woods. Since their inception in 1999, he has won 17 (42%!!) and collected a total of $24 million in winnings for his efforts.
Sometimes we forget just how dominant Woods was due to the faults he has experienced over the last few years bringing him down to the level of the rest of the field. Woods burned so hot, for so long, the flame was likely to decrease from a raging inferno to a contained blaze in a fireplace at some point. I just don’t think we expected it to happen so suddenly and so dramatically when it did.
Needless to say, we’re again seeing signs of the “Old Tiger” that carved up the field for four rounds and never really gave anyone else a shot to win.
A win at Bay Hill in two weeks would provide an even better glimpse of the “Old Tiger” as it would propel him back atop the World Golf Rankings, a place he could have used as a permanent residence in the past.
In his post round press conference, Woods talked about getting a putting lesson from Steve Stricker on Wednesday before the WGC-Cadillac Championship started. It worked, and also may have backfired on Stricker, who finished two-shots back in second place.
It was almost a redemptive week for PGA Tour television ratings as well. After Woods and Rory McIlroy (and just about every other favorite) were bounced early from the WGC-Accenture Matchplay Championship, this past Sunday saw Woods win, with Stricker in second and Graeme McDowell, Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia and Adam Scott tying for third.
Star power at the top of the leaderboard is exactly what the PGA Tour wants, and they did at the WGC-Cadillac Championship.
I won’t speculate whether I think this is the turning point for Woods “being back,” because I don’t think it’s fair to judge what he can do now to what he did in his most dominant years. He’s older with a potential to be injury prone and when that once-in-a-lifetime magic goes... it goes. That doesn’t mean Woods can’t be the most dominant force on the Tour, because he will always have that potential, but it’s always going to be wait and see with him now.
What’s good for the PGA Tour is we will wait to see if that magic comes back, every week, even if it never does.