Stock Report: The Masters

What a week it was. The rollercoaster ride of Tiger Woods’ career is back on the upswing, and he did something this past week that almost everyone said he wouldn’t: he won another major. And not just any major: The Masters. The dominance, the off course issues, the original comeback, the surgeries, the chipping issues, more surgeries, the skepticism, and then, the triumph. There are rarely accomplishments in sports that give people chills, that make them sit and watch in awe, but this was certainly one of them.

Trying to put into perspective what Tiger accomplished with his win is probably not something I can do, but for so many die-hard fans like myself, it couldn’t have happened in better fashion. The drama was there, with Tiger struggling a bit on the front and falling 3 back. At this point it looked as if we needed some Tiger magic to get back into it, the same magic that had eluded him for so many years prior in so many tournaments. But this week felt different. The look was there. The eyes were locked, and the walk was quiet, but confident. His calmness and sureness of himself was something I haven’t seen in quite some time. After early bogeys, there was no defeated look, no glance up at the sky wondering how he just let this happen after getting within one. It was pure determination and belief. And then 12 happened. Francesco Molinari leaving a short iron in the bank of the hill that bounced into Rae’s creek was the break he needed. From that point on, Tiger played nearly flawless golf. Even when there was so much congestion at the top of the leaderboard, you got a sense the old Tiger was back. There was no wayward tee shot, no must make putt that lipped out. Instead, he hit perfect shot after perfect shot, displaying the undeniable clutch gene that we were so used to seeing. After Koepka missed his birdie putt on 18, Tiger did what he had to do to ensure a bogey on the last, and #15 was his.

His win is as inspiring a sports story as I can remember in my lifetime. This is a guy who is my (and I’m sure many others) first real memory of golf, the reason so many of us wanted to go hit massive drives, fist pump big putts, and try impossible shots. I recall as a kid wondering to myself how the name “Tiger Woods” is on the first page of seemingly every leaderboard. As I began to get older and become more of a fan, it was easy to see why. The work ethic, the never give up attitude, the confidence, the magic. But then it all fell apart. He plummeted like no one we’ve ever seen before. Even before the injuries. The private life turmoil that he caused his family and himself is something I’m not sure many people would ever recover from. But even after the embarrassment and mistakes, he showed the fighting spirit that helped draw so many people to him over the years. The injuries and attempted recoveries were in reality so nearly a sad tale that put him on the shelf for good. But somehow, he found a way to battle so many demons and come back better than ever.

This version of Tiger isn’t as brash. He isn’t as intimidating or as dominant, and he tends to save the death stare for rare occurrences only. But maybe losing the invincibility was a good thing. Seeing the human side of him more and more allows his fans to connect with him in a way they have never before. He seems to take more of it in now, to show his gratitude, and to really understand his special position in the game of golf and in the world in general. So many people struggle with something, and so many people look to others for inspiration. Whether he did it for his kids, himself, his fans, or a mixture of all three, everyone is sure happy he did. Like he has for so many years before, he made us believe again that nothing is impossible, that if we dig deep enough and fight hard enough, it will happen. For that, and for all the memories that we will never forget, we thank him. Tiger is back, and hopefully he is just getting started.

With that being said, Tiger is of course trending up.

Also Trending UP

Brooks Koepka: My goodness. This man is an absolute monster in the majors. Not that he hasn’t done it before, but it really is something to see Koepka seemingly step up and hit the required shots time and time again late on a major Sunday. This again begs the question as to why he isn’t more consistent in regular events. I tend to think that storyline will soon be flipped and he will win more events regularly. That doesn’t mean he won’t still be the threat at the majors. Hopefully we can rid the media storyline of Brooks not getting enough attention, because besides that, he is a guy who is awesome to watch.

Xander: X showcased again that he has one of the biggest games on tour. Completing his 4th top 6 finish in the last 8 majors, he again reminded us that it’s only a matter of time for him until he nabs one. The ability to play well when the stakes are the highest is something some people are born with, and X is one of them. He is another guy who, when he approaches the ball in a clutch situation, you expect it to be pure. Combine that with his solid putting stroke, and he becomes yet another name to watch as we head deeper into major season and on to the FedEx Cup playoffs.

Trending Down

El Nino: Serg one again missed the cut at  major, which makes it 5 straight for him. At this point in the Spaniards career, it isn’t about regular tour events. Sergio has the look of a man who is content with his Master’s win, and if that’s the case, he won’t contend for a while. If he ever gets tired of stinking in the big events, he of course has the game to threaten. Always been a mental game for El Nino.

Cam Smith: We’re going to give Rosey a pass, as this week was an outlier for him. Instead we’ll take a look at the Aussie Cam Smith, who is losing form by the week. After a hot start to the year with a couple top 10’s, Cam has gone MC-56-61-51 the past 4 events. Although armed with serious talent and scoring ability, Smith has been extremely erratic lately and is filling up the card with big numbers. If he can figure out a way to be consistent he is a guy who can be in the mix at big events, but right now he seems to be in a funk.

Cheers to the best week in golf history (for me, anyway)! Hopefully this Master’s was just the start of a special Major season, as we seem to have a countless number of studs in the game of golf right now. For now though we take our talents to Hilton Head Island, the sight of Satoshi Kodaira’s playoff victory in 2018. Til’ next week.

KW

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