Keeping Score

Why Tiger Woods Is Roaring on the Golf Course Again

An amazing chip shot at the Memorial helps Tiger get his swagger back.

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REUTERS/John Sommers II

Tiger Woods reacts after chipping in for a birdie on the 16th hole during the final round of the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio, June 3, 2012.

Can Tiger Woods bring Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer to the U.S. Open?

Because when these legends are around, Tiger raises his game. On Sunday, Woods won the Memorial, hosted by Jack Nicklaus in Dublin, Ohio, in thrilling fashion: he birdied three of the last four holes to erase a two-shot deficit. It was Woods’ 73rd PGA title, tying him with Nicklaus for second-most in golf history (Sam Snead won 82). Woods’ fifth Memorial title was also his second of the year. In March, he won Palmer’s tournament, Bay Hill, for a seventh time.

After Bay Hill, many golf experts picked Woods to win the Masters, which was played a few weeks later. Woods finished tied for 41st at Augusta, with his worst four-round score as a pro. Once again, Woods has looked sharp before a major: the U.S. Open tees off on June 14th, at the Olympic Club in San Francisco. But this win seems more telling, because Tiger got some of that old swagger back.

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We hadn’t seen it in awhile: Woods hitting an amazing shot, then pumping his fist, shouting, roaring. Remember when such emotion was a regular occurrence? On the par-3 16th hole on Sunday, Woods hit a shot for the ages: chipping out of deep rough behind the green onto a downhill slope with a water hazard looming on the other side, Woods made a 50-footer that shook the Muriel Village Golf Club. Tiger celebrated in vintage fashion, letting it all out. Clip below:

Even Nicklaus was dazzled. He called it “the most unbelievable, gutsy shot I have ever seen.” He went on:

He had one place to land the ball, he’s playing a shot that if he leaves it short, he’s going to leave himself again a very difficult shot, if he hits it long, he’s going to probably lose the tournament,” Nicklaus said. “He lands the ball exactly where it has to land. It doesn’t make a difference whether it went in the hole or not. Going in the hole was a bonus.

“But what a shot,” Nicklaus opined. “I don’t think under the circumstances I’ve ever seen a better shot.”

Hard to argue with the Golden Bear. And hard not to consider Woods a U.S. Open favorite.

(MORE: TIME Plays Tiger Woods At ‘PGA Tour 13.’)

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