There’s a good news and a bad news. The good news is, Tiger is back! The bad news is Tiger did not come back with a ‘bang’.
It cannot be him. Tiger Woods is the numero uno, the No.1 golfer in the world. It should not have happened. It was just unthinkable! It could not happen to the best player golf had ever known. Tiger is reputed to be one such player. But it did happen. It happened Friday April 30th at the Quail Hollow Championships ( April 29 – May 02, 2010) . Yes, Tiger missed the cut!
A golf tournament runs for 4 days, from Thursday through to Sunday. At the end of the second day is the cut-off point. Only those with good scores ( those with a 2-day total of less than 145 in the case of Quail Hollow) were allowed to play for the week-end, the remaining 2 days of the tournament. Tiger had an opening round of 74 on Thursday and a 79 on Friday making a total of 153. He was 8 shots above the cut-off which was way off.
Missing the cut means the golfer is a mere spectator for Saturday and Sunday. That was what happened to Tiger. This was only his second game in a PGA tournament following his 5-month self imposed temporary lay-off (arising from his sex scandal ) Five months in the golf wilderness is a long while.
Missing the cut can only happen to lesser mortals but it did happen to Tiger. All goes to show that he's human. It is also shown that golf is a mental game as often emphasized. A golfer can be in the best of physical condition but if mentally affected for some reasons at the moment of play it would have dire consequences on his game.
Tiger is actually known to have a strong mental capacity. This advantage invariably contributed to his many winning forms previously. In fact at the US Masters ( April 08 - April 11, 2010) his first tournament after the lay-off, he came in 4th ( which was a respectable finish ). There were high hopes then that Tiger was on the mend and should do better for the 2nd tournament at Quail Hollow. But missing the cut?
He was heckled no doubt (as attested to on internet videos). Many in the crowd showed a 'thumbs-down' when he walked pass by them from tee-box to tee box. He was under tremendous pressure during the game besides the long lay-off itself, so it can be said.
However being a No. 1 golfer he is expected to be of sterner stuff, unruffled by such minor irritations. He wants to stay competitive. The golfing world wants him. Golf on the final day without Tiger in his familiar maroon coloured vest tells us something's missing.
Just as Muhammad Ali was to boxing, we would remember boxing only by remembering who fought Ali for the heavyweight title. Without Muhammad Ali the heavyweight title lost its glamour (though there was a revival with Mike Tyson but only just!)
So for Tiger, the scenario is all set for him again. He's had his warm-up in 2 tournaments (one a major). He's put his wife Erin on a stable mode ( compromised with a punitively compensated package of US$mils ). The sponsors and tournament directors are happy again - Tiger's appearance brings back the crowd. The money-making machine starts ringing again. Millions of our television audience around the globe are glued to the box again and the ratings increased fast. ( just as Ali did decades ago)
Last but not least, the bookmakers are unperturbed, likewise. Tiger is the favourite to win for the forthcoming US Open ( June 17 - 20, 2010) at Pebble Beach. Let us see if Tiger can live up to it, again!