Maybe more than Tiger Woods himself, there probably isn’t anyone more thrilled with his Arnold Palmer Invitational victory than the PGA Tour’s marketing department. The win wasn’t his first since the scandal broke nearly two and a half years ago. It was, however, his first PGA Tour victory since 2009. And for the better part of the four rounds, Tiger appeared as dominant as the sports world has seen him in years. For lack of a better term, he gave off the impression he was, for once, at peace and calm on the territory which helped him earn stripes as arguably the most dominant athlete of his generation. The red shirt was there Sunday, the runaway leader board dominance was too and so was his patented fist pump. And once it was official, the smile and excitement we hadn’t witnessed in close to a half decade returned. Eldrick Woods was actually Tiger Woods, again.
With anything it seems in life, the victory’s most important consequence is the buzz it creates. Think about it this way. Golf can sit and play on the fact the game’s most recognizable figure is back in the news for something positive and not checking out of a tournament early, or awarding his ex-wife half his fortune or having a random waitress from Ruby Tuesday claim he smashed her in the back of his Bentley while drunk of Coronas. That last one never happened by the way, but I wouldn’t put it past him either. Now, with the timing of yesterday’s A.P. Invitational win, The Masters, which tees off in two weeks, just became significantly more interesting. Imagine the chaos and social media activity with Tiger being in contention during the last round making a charge on the back nine. Doing so in shoot out with Rory McIlroy – the name supposedly planted to take over his “face of the game” status – would be even more legendary.
Tiger isn’t “back” just yet; even he’d admit that. Yet if, and that’s big “if,” he finds a way to chip shot his way into winning The Masters, whether it be in overpowering fashion or last round heroics, that PGA Tour marketing department I made mention of earlier may throw a Project X-style welcome back party in celebration.