Bob Bestler

I called my shot with Tiger Woods. Now, I’m left wanting more

Welcome back, Tiger Woods. The Tour Championship was his first PGA Tour win in five years and his 80th overall.
Welcome back, Tiger Woods. The Tour Championship was his first PGA Tour win in five years and his 80th overall. TNS

A couple years ago, when Tiger Woods was still recovering from a personal scandal and various injuries, I was asked if I thought he would ever win another golf tournament.

I said yes — and I said it without hesitation.

He’s too driven, too talented, too competitive. I mean, who else could have won the 2008 U.S. Open on a broken leg and torn ACL?

And he has a work ethic that few other golfers have; more than anything, that has been responsible for his 79 tour victories and 14 major wins.

I’m reminded of an episode in Hank Haney’s book, “The Big Miss,” when Woods called Haney, his swing coach at the time, from his hotel room.

With two days left in a tournament, Woods was in his room, practicing his swing in front of a mirror and had a couple questions for Haney. It was 3 in the morning. Work ethic.

All that was said before Woods’ fourth back surgery and I confess there were several days I thought my optimism was misplaced. Watching him chunk chips and miss three-foot putts was painful for all his fans.

It didn’t help that in just the past year Woods himself talked about maybe having a decent life with his kids, maybe putting around once in a while at his Jupiter, Fla., home.

Competitive golf, while laying for weeks on one’s back, was pretty far out of the picture.

Suddenly, this month saw the return of Tiger Woods — with a vengeance.

In the opening round of the BMW Championship, he recorded a 62 — tying his lowest first-round score ever. He faded a bit over the next three days, finishing in a sixth-place tie, but earning a spot in the season-ending Tour Championship.

Ah, the Tour Championship. Woods led wire-to-wire and on Sunday cruised to his 80th tour victory. In the process he announced to the world that Tiger Woods was back.

Now the golf world’s attention will be turning to the next question: Can a healthy Tiger Woods pass Jack Nicklaus’s 18 majors?

Woods will be 43 when the 2019 season starts and no one has won more than one major after turning 43. Nicklaus won his 16th and 17th at age 40; after a six-year drought, he won his 18th at age 46, the 1986 Masters.

Nicklaus was asked about Woods’ chances in an interview after the Tour Championship on Sunday.

“With today’s equipment, and the way guys take care of themselves, they could play well into their 50s,” he said. “Maybe Tiger’s got 40 majors left to play. Out of 40 majors, can he win five of them, I don’t know.”

Nicklaus also mentioned Woods’ work ethic. “I’m proud of him. He’s worked very hard to get his golf game back. He’s even worked really hard to get that five inches between his head thinking the right way again.”

So, for Tiger Woods fans everywhere, bring on 2019. We’re ready.

Contact Bob Bestler at bestler6@tds.net.

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