THOUSAND OAKS, CALIF. (AP) - Earl Woods could blow smoke with the best of them, yet it was always entertaining.
Such was the case years ago when he was raving about how Tiger Woods thoroughly enjoyed the biggest stage in golf, because his son knew he could perform under pressure. But if that were true, then how did Woods butcher the final round of the Quad City Classic when he had a chance to win in his third start as a pro?
“It took me a while to figure out why he didn’t win,” Earl Woods said in a 2003 interview. “Then it dawned on me and I told my wife, `Tiger is going to win in Las Vegas.’ Because in his subconscious mind, he did not want to win his first tournament in some … place like Quad Cities.”
Woods ended the longest drought of his career _ 26 tournaments without a win over 749 days _ at the Chevron World Challenge, and whether that was the ideal place for him to finally pose with a trophy again depends on the perspective.
In one respect, he came full circle at Sherwood Country Club.
This was the first tournament that Woods skipped in the immediate aftermath of Thanksgiving night 2009, when his personal life imploded. And it was at this tournament last year when he blew a four-shot lead and lost to Graeme McDowell in a playoff, a sign that something wasn’t quite right with his game.
On Sunday, he looked like the Woods of old by making clutch birdie putts on the last two holes to beat Zach Johnson, who played bogey-free on the back nine.
Even though the Chevron World Challenge had 11 of the top 25 players in the world ranking _ the most of any tournament in the world last week _ some of the easiest events to win have the smallest fields. And the field shrinks even more when free money is being offered ($140,000 for last place). It also could be argued that some players had one eye on the holiday season. For 12 of the 18 players at Sherwood, that was their last tournament of the year.
Some will never be satisfied, though.
Woods could win his first tournament of 2012 in Abu Dhabi, and skeptics won’t think it matters until he wins on the PGA Tour (Europe has more top players, though the depth is lacking). He could win at Pebble Beach, and some will say the only measure is the majors.
Here’s how to gauge Sunday: It was a significant win because it was significant to Woods.
He said in August that his left leg feels as strong as it has in years, and that much should be believed. “If the man is healthy, that’s paramount,” Johnson said.
Woods said he has been working hard on his new swing over the last three months, and that much was evident based on the quality of shots he hit at the Australian Open, at the Presidents Cup and at the Chevron World Challenge.
What he needs is confidence, and making two key putts with a tournament on the line is only going to help.View Entire Story
By Andrew P. Napolitano
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