Tiger’s Win at the Arnold Palmer Invitational

It had been a long layoff and a long victory drought for the world’s number one player. Of course, that drought was not due to any loss of ability or desire. The knee surgery had dictated that Tiger Woods lay low for an extended time in order to recover completely.

But, after two previous starts that showed the rust brought on by lack of tournament competition for the better part of a year, Tiger got it back together in time to once again win a tournament that he’s dominated over the years. He’s won that event an incredible 6 times and, with that trophy, chalked up his 66th career win, a total that boggles the mind given the current state of competition in professional golf. And it places him in the very top echelon of the games history, with only Jack Nicklaus, with 73 career victories and Sam Snead with 82 ahead of him.

At 33 years of age, Tiger Woods has many years of professional golf ahead of him, barring injuries. And given the kind of statistics he’s routinely amassed during his relatively brief career, it would seem that no established mark is too far away for him to achieve. With 14 major titles under his belt, he is just 4 behind the record total of Jack Nicklaus, who holds 18 major titles. For any other player, saying ‘only 4 behind’ would be bordering on being humorous. The vast majority of players never win 4 major titles in their entire careers, but when we’re talking about Tiger, all bets are off.

Bear in mind that he’s only been on tour since 1997. This is his twelfth year. That means he’s averaged 5.5 wins a year and better than 1 major a year during that time. One also has to take into consideration layoffs during that period for injuries and a couple of major swing changes. Assuming the same numbers over the next 7 years he could theoretically pile up some 35 more wins and 7 more majors. That total is stunning, true, but it could happen. Even dropping the bar considerably, say to an average of 3 wins a year and just 5 total majors would give him a total of 87 wins and 19 majors.

Obviously, we’ll have to see what happens. But it’s fun to conjecture and it sure is fun to watch the man who is arguably the best player in the history of the game perform his wizardry on the golf course.

One thing’s for certain; Tiger’s win at Bay Hill thrust him back to the top of his profession. After watching last year’s US Open win on what was essentially one leg, could anyone doubt his drive and determination? His game, a bit rickety after the long layoff, showed signs of getting back in the groove at Bay Hill. And it probably will only get better.

I felt sorry for Sean O’Hair in that drama after he had played so well before enduring Sunday’s meltdown. But he can take solace in the fact that he wasn’t the first to falter under the palpable pressure of playing against Tiger Woods on the final day.

Once again, the tournament came down to a final putt. Once again, Tiger made it. Did anyone seriously doubt he wouldn’t?

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