Keeping Score

Tiger Woods Is Back To Number One: His Greatest Feat?

His collapse was stunning. So is his revival.

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David Cannon / Getty Images

Tiger Woods and Arnold Palmer after Woods won the 2013 Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented by Mastercard at Bay Hill Golf and Country Club on March 25, 2013 in Orlando, Florida.

Early on his career, Tiger Woods set a pretty lofty goal for himself: break Jack Nicklaus’ record for most major victories in a career, 18. He’s been stuck on 14 since 2008, going on five years. A scandal sunk his personal life, culminating in his divorce from Elin Nordegren, serious injuries sidelined him, and in November 2011, Woods’ ranking sank to number 58 in the world.

Was he done?

Not quite. After clinching a two-stroke victory in the Arnold Palmer Invitational, at the Bay Hill Club & Lodge in Orlando, Fla. on Monday — his third tournament win in this young 2013 season, and 77th PGA title in total — Woods regained his world number one ranking, which he lost back in October 2010. Since Woods hasn’t won a major since June 2008, it’s tempting to dismiss this milestone somewhat. Woods set majors as the standard, after all, and the Arnold Palmer is not Augusta.

(PHOTOS: Brief History of the Tiger Woods Scandal)

But Woods’ resurrection is still stunning. As Brian Murphy of Yahoo! Sports puts it:

Holy smokes. Tiger Woods just accomplished one of the greatest feats of his career.

Right next to winning four consecutive majors from 2000-01, right next to winning six consecutive U.S. Junior Amateurs and U.S. Amateurs, right next to 77 PGA Tour wins by age 37, I’ll put “The Long Climb Back” on Tiger’s all-time ledger

This new generation of golfers, players like Rory McIlroy, weren’t supposed to fear Tiger anymore. Sure, they grew up idolizing him. But they weren’t seeing him dominate on the course.

(MORE: Rory McIlroy Becomes Golf’s $250 Million Dollar Man)

Until now; Murphy points to a telling quote from American Keegan Bradley, a quote that Tiger must relish seeing:

“I feel like this is the Tiger I grew up watching.”

He’s creeping back into their heads.

Tiger’s revival required patience, and extreme discipline: he switched coaches, rearranged his swing again, pounded away at his putting. Once again, he’s the man to beat at the Masters, which starts on April 11. He might not win his fifth Green Jacket. But once again, Tiger Woods is the best in the world.

VIDEO: TIME Plays Tiger Woods at PGA Tour 13

6 comments
pietermyers
pietermyers

Well Tiger is a scum bag and everyone knows it.  It's nice to talk about his golf game, but it will never change this person's major character flaws.  Hero worship seems to erase these details, but they will always be there.

Eternaltruth
Eternaltruth

The comments made by sergio garcia has put the spot light so to speak on the golf world.  It has accomplished two things, it clearly showed the world what is in garcia heart. ( he just don't like tiger he don't like african americans or people of color).  It also show how the so- called decision makers of the European tour feel, when it comes to african american or people of color.  I for one can't believe that no punishment has yet to be given to garcia.  I decided that I would never watch the european tour again, until they rid the tour of people like garcia and others, who participation in the tour simply deminishes it.

Thewellnessteam
Thewellnessteam

Wish him lots of luck....I don't believe he can hold the #1 spot for long. The other golfer don't fear as much anymore.

formerlyjames
formerlyjames

Maybe standing next to Arnold Palmer will infuse some personality in Woods.  Not Palmer's charisma, just something better than boring, self-centered, stick in the mud. 

carolo43
carolo43

I'm happy he is back on top.   That honor belongs to those who have worked several years to get there and been dedicated to the sport through bad times and good.  That includes personal lives, surgeries, etc, and Tiger had numerous surgeries to keep him moving and playing.  Every move he makes seems to be fodder for gossip but yet we do not hear of the personal lives of all the other players.  Why is that?

Nice going Tiger and I never doubted you'd be back in great form.

cypherDES
cypherDES

I have to agree.  Golf is such a mental game that very few can recover from such a freefall.  See Ralph Guldahl, Ian-Baker Finch and David Duval.  And not only is he competitive again, he is winning at a clip we haven't seen since his prime.  Out of the last 20 tournaments, he has won 6.  That is better than a quarter of the tournaments he enters.  It is just mind boggling.  I don't know if he will win another major, or break Jack's record, and we will never see a stretch of golf like we saw in 2000.  But he's back.