Tiger Woods’s return to the Masters

by Dan M | Posted on Saturday, April 7th, 2018
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TOM WARD
TOMPWARD@SBCGLOBAL.NET

Tom Cruise’s sixth installment of the Mission:Impossible series will be hitting the silver screen this summer. Fans around the world have eagerly awaited three years for this film. That pales in comparison as golf fans have waited much longer for the highly anticipated return of Tiger Woods to the hallowed grounds of Augusta National.
Tiger Woods is again the talk of the golf world heading into the first major of the year, the 82nd playing of the Masters. The last time Woods donned the coveted green jacket was in 2005. Since that last win his best finishes at Augusta have been a second place finish in 2008 and tie for 2nd in 2006 and 2007. In more recent years his best finish was a tie for 4th in 2010, 2011 and 2013. Now he’s back and feeling better than ever…. ready to tangle with a whole new crop of youngsters ready to challenge the golf legend.
In the film franchise Tom Cruise’s character Ethan Hunt worked for (IMF) Impossible Missions Force. Just like movie franchise and the iconic TV series of the late 1960’s and early 70’s the show followed the exploits of a small team of secret agents used for covert missions against dictators, evil organizations and crime lords. In both the movies and TV series the assignment would be given to (IMF leader) Cruise’s character usually in a hidden tape recorder and an envelope of photos and information that explains the mission. The message would state at the end “ As always, should you or any of your I.M. Force be caught or killed, the Secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions.” Then the mysterious voice would say, “This tape will self-destruct in ten seconds.”
In the past Tiger was the highly trained assassin that took over the mission of winning golf championships, destroying opponents in his wake and disposing them into the deep rough while re-writing golf’s record books. Now with Woods seemingly back from the abyss of health issues  (back) he will encounter a new young breed of would be assassins that would love nothing more than take him out of commission as they write their own personal history at the Masters.
Woods, a winner of four green jackets, at age 42 appears ready to tee it up again with renewed vigor after enduring four back surgeries. Woods calls his back fusion last April “a second chance at life. I’m a walking miracle.”
The fact that he’s back is quite amazing given the other circumstances surrounding him nearly a year ago. Flashback to last  Memorial day when Woods was arrested for a DUI in Florida, near his home, where police found him asleep at the wheel of his car. Later, a toxicology report came out showing he had five different drugs in his system.
During Woods time away from the course because of injuries, he had the opportunity to get to know a lot of the younger players as an assistant captain on the 2016 Ryder Cup and 2017 Presidents Cup teams. Jordan Spieth was on both teams, and Justin Thomas was on the Presidents Cup team. Brandt Snedecker said it best about what these young players might not realize if they get paired with Woods come Sunday.
“I think it will be harder for them because they only know Tiger as their friend and their buddy, “They don’t know Tiger as the ‘cut your head off on 18 and make that putt to win the golf tournament’ kind of guy. I think that will be a little different change for them that they don’t realize how dominant he was in that aspect back in the day.”
David Duval, who works for Golf Channel put it more bluntly to those young players who say they wish they could have gone up against Tiger in his prime:“The hell you do.”
The reason that all the players need to take notice is because in the last two tournaments leading up to the Masters Woods put himself into contention on Sunday before finishing in 2nd and 5th place respectively.
You think Tiger’s return to tournament golf hasn’t made a big difference to the TV ratings? The numbers are impressive. The four tournaments in which Woods has made the cut this year are the four highest-ranked telecasts of the PGA Tour season. It’s been 1,090 days since his last competitive round at Augusta National due to a series of back surgeries that threatened to end his career. His comeback, after missing three of the past four Masters, has once again raised the hype machine coming into the season’s first major championship.
“Tiger returning to Augusta has already far surpassed anyone’s loftiest expectations of what he’d be able to do this quickly,” said CBS’ voice of the Masters, Jim Nantz, who calls this “probably the most anticipated Masters that any of us has seen in our lifetimes.”
If Woods plan to continue his assault on Jack Nicklaus’ records he will have to deal with some young guns that don’t appear to be intimidated by his prowess. One of those youngsters is John Rahm from Spain. Also, Bryson DeChambeau, who played his collegiate golf at SMU, and young Patrick Cantlay could disrupt Tiger’s homecoming as well.
Of the 86 golfers in the field vying for the title I like the usual suspects to be in the mix on Sunday. That list includes last year’s runner-up Justin Rose. New father and defending champion Sergio Garcia appears poised for another run. Dallas native Jordan Spieth who won in 2015 always seems to be in contention and will be a factor. Jason Day has 3 top-10 finishes in 7 career Masters starts. Bubba Watson the two-time Masters champion is back on his game.
What everyone is hoping for on Sunday would be a thrilling, roller-coaster cliffhanger finish just like you see in those Tom Cruise films. Can you imagine the scenario where Woods is dueling against his longtime rival 47 year old and 3 –time Masters Champion Phil Mickelson. Along with current World number one Dustin Johnson right there on the back nine with Justin Thomas and Henrik Stenson following close on their heels. Don’t forget past Master champion Adam Scott and fan favorite Rickie Fowler. I would like all of them to be there  as they come down the stretch of Amen Corner. It would make great theater and be must see TV for golf and sports fans around the globe.
The word Fallout, which is used in the new Cruise film, is defined in the dictionary as radioactive particles that are carried into the atmosphere after a nuclear explosion and gradually falling back as dust or precipitation. If Tiger Woods prevails and wins this Masters, after all the adversity that he has endured, the fallout from a win at Augusta would be global and a warning shot to his competitors that he’s back to stay.
So all those young players that yearned for a chance to play against Tiger Woods beware what you ask for because if Woods can complete this improbable comeback their mission if they choose to challenge him might become nearly impossible. This article will self- destruct in 10 seconds.
Tom can be reached at www.teetimewithtom.com

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