Tiger Woods at The Open: A Prophesy Fulfilled

Tiger Woods tees off at the Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland, in 2007.
told you Tigers Woods’ return would make golf better, and now the prophesy is coming true.
I could end my column right there, but I am contractually obligated to write 600 words, or this paper can legally confiscate my collection of old comic book T-shirts. (At least the ones I’ve safely hidden from my wife, who says I’m too old for T-shirts covered in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.)
A few months ago, I wrote that golf just ain’t the same without Woods. Since then, Tiger’s been steadily clawing (Nice pun, no?) his way back to relevance.
While Woods didn’t win Sunday at The Open, he did lead at one point and ultimately finished T6, only two shots behind the winner, Italian golfer Francesco Molinari.

Hey Mambo, Golf-o Italiano

I myself feel a close personal tie to Molinari, the first Italian to ever win a golf major. I’ve never met him, but as a man who’s proud of his Italian-American heritage (I think I’m 1/8 Italian, or 1/16th, or maybe it’s 7/16? Try 19mm), I feel overjoyed for this man who hails from the land of my ancestors. So I raise a glass to you, Molinari, and say, “Buon lavora, paisan!” (Literal translation: Please refill this Parmesan cheese shaker.)
It’s hard not to feel happy for this Italiano Golfer Extraordinaire. After it was clear he was going to win and the trophy engraver started carving “Francesco” on the Claret Jug, Molinari had such a simple, happy smile on his face. It’s like the smile that creeps across your face as a parent at a birthday party when you realize the sound of crying isn’t coming from your kid.
Lest we forget what the original point of this column was, my wife thinks a man who’s almost 30 doesn’t need a closet full of comic book character T-shirts. What’s up with that?!

Rousing the Troops

Also, Tiger is making golf better. His presence in the field fills the media booth, which can be a relaxed space (“relaxed” is putting it mildly), with an electric energy. Did you see Johnny Miller? He almost stayed awake the whole time he was on camera!
Actually, Miller looked quite engaged, but I think that’s because his co-host Dan Hicks was discussing the time Miller barely lost The Open. Hicks laughed and said it was OK, because Miller won the next year. Miller gave an obligatory TV presenter fake chuckle, but couldn’t disguise the fact that he was imagining stuffing Hicks into a wood chipper.
Aside from invigorating golf media, Woods also causes the rest of the field to play at a better level. Don’t believe me? Remember Tiger’s partner on Sunday? That’s right, Molinari!

Woods Doesn’t Share Spotlight

Of course, not everyone on the tour plays their best when Tiger’s in the hunt. Jordan Spieth had a late-round meltdown, falling out of the lead after posting a +5 on his final round. Spieth initially made me dismiss Wall Street Journal sportswriter Brian Costa’s claim that the beauty of Carnoustie was its ugly golf. The first thing I witnessed when flipping over to The Open was Spieth knocking a tee shot within 15 feet of the pin on a 380-yard par 4.
Was it the presence of a Tiger on the prowl that caused Spieth’s spidey senses to tingle, scaring him out of the lead? I doubt it, but for the purpose of this column, let’s say Spieth was shaking in his cleats when he heard Tiger’s roar.
Unlike Spieth, Rory McIlroy, to his credit, finished the week strong tied for second. But no one’s talking about Spieth or McIlroy that.
After the obligatory airy announcement that Molinari was bringing the first major trophy home to Italy, the news was focused around what’s really important: Tiger’s back. This time it’s real.
Will he actually win this year? Will he play, not just coach/mentor in the Ryder Cup?

Tiger Being Back Means Golf is Back

We won’t know for sure until summer’s nearly over, but one fact has been clear since the beginning of this season: People — average people — not just your knowledgeable PGA junkies, are talking about golf again. That’s due to one man, and one man alone.
There. Proof that the prophesy is fulfilled. Can a man be a prophet if he owns T-shirts with comic book characters on them?
He can if he can keep them hidden from his wife!
This column was originally published July 26, 2018 in the Republic-Monitor.

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