Sports

Liguori: The Return Of Tiger Woods

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Tiger Woods hits his tee shot on the 14th hole during the second round of the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational on the South Course at Firestone Country Club on August 5, 2011 in Akron, Ohio. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

Tiger Woods hits his tee shot on the 14th hole during the second round of the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational on the South Course at Firestone Country Club on August 5, 2011 in Akron, Ohio. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

By Ann Liguori
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‘The Season,’ weather-wise, is so limited on the East End of Long Island, or really anywhere in the Northeast, so remaining in The Hamptons the next few weeks while in the midst of lovely summer weather was the decision I made this year, in lieu of heading to Akron to personally watch Tiger’s return from being on the three month DL. So when I came into the clubhouse Thursday after playing in the member guest at Hampton Hills, my first question to the restaurant manager was, ‘How did Tiger do?’ Craig’s answer was curious, ‘Why does everyone always have to focus on Tiger when there are so many other good players in the field?’

I attempted to explain to him that Tiger’s comeback posed one of the biggest questions in sports, one of the top stories in sports. And whether or not one feels that Tiger is worthy of the attention, the fact is, he was once the most dominant athlete on the planet and the majority of golfing fans and sports fans were curious as to how he would play and handle himself. How would his knee and Achilles hold up? What kind of mental state is he in? How would he play with a different caddie? (his friend and head of his design team, Byron Bell, an interim caddie, after firing long-time caddie Steve Williams). What kind of score could he put up in this, his first tournament since The Players Championships in mid-May, where he withdrew after nine holes in the first round?

For a moment, Craig’s question made me wonder if more people felt the same way as he did – that perhaps, not as many people care about Tiger as before…

It seemed like somewhat of a refreshing ‘take’ on the game, perhaps from a pure golf fan who enjoyed the last few years of watching different talent win.

But how could one not be interested or curious about Tiger’s comeback? Win or lose, Tiger is still one of the most compelling stories in sports, based on where he was as an athlete, how he self-destructed personally, and all the questions that remain about his physical and mental status. Even old buds Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley are psycho-analyzing him. And Darren Clarke, whom he is playing with in the first two rounds at Firestone, is defending him.

The athlete who won 14 Major Championships and 71 PGA Tour titles in a span of 15 years will always be intriguing. He put on a show, unlike any other in sports; with the way he not only won tournaments, but annihilated his competition. Few other performances in sports compared to his mastery of Pebble Beach, when he won by 15 shots in the 2000 US Open, followed by his 8 stroke victory at St. Andrews in the British, finishing 19 under par, to close out his career Grand Slam as the youngest player ever. There are countless other performances that awed golf fans but watching Tiger hobble his way to victory at the 2008 US Open in Torrey Pines, only added to the mystique of Tiger Woods.

And now he is back. And the plot thickens. His first round at Firestone produced a 2 under par 68 while Adam Scott and caddie Steve Williams grabbed a share of the headlines by carding an 8 under 62 in mild conditions and the first round lead. If Adam Scott wins, would it be temporary vindication for Steve Williams?

Win or lose, Tiger is mounting his comeback ‘his’ way. Don’t ask too many questions. He won’t answer them to your satisfaction anyway. Just sit back and watch him play golf. His performance on the course will do the talking.

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Be sure to visit Ann’s web site at www.annliguori.com to hear her radio shows, order DVD copies of her television interviews with legends in sports and to find out about her upcoming appearances.

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