|Tiger Woods (Allison)|
My definition of “backness” is “the state of, or condition of, being back.” This is on the minds of many of us in the golf world as it concerns Tiger Woods. We are more than four years removed from his last major victory at the 2008 U.S. Open. Yet Tiger is winning again. He has three PGA Tour wins this season, more than anyone.
This topic came up for me this past week in a radio interview. Is Tiger back? It depends.
Then, about an hour ago, I read Bill Pennington of the New York Times. He said it well in his piece titled “Back in the Hunt, but Missing His Older Killer Instinct.”
As Pennington wrote, “There are two answers, and the second matters far more than the first.”
If being back means hitting technically proficient shots with increasingly ordinary effort, if it means a relatively calm putting stroke, if it means sound course management and a placid existence because his marital and adultery scandal no longer comes up on or off the course, then Tiger is back. He has demonstrated that he is again performing at a level matched by few. With three PGA Tour victories this year, he would be player of the year if the vote were held today. Some would say that is the definition of being back on top.And the second.
But if being back means seizing the major champion’s moment and facing the attendant pressure with so few hiccups it intimidates others into flinching, if it means making the stellar effort seem routine, if it means drawing the momentum to your side and letting it propel you where you need to go to win not just a PGA Tour event but a major championship, then Tiger is not back.Put another way, on a backness scale of 1 to 10, you could say Tiger is a 5, halfway back. He needs a major. He knows it. We all know it. The PGA Championship is his last chance until next April.