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Tiger Tiger burning bright
By Seamus O’Bradaigh – Associate Editor
Dublin, OHIO – Tiger Woods hit an absolutely spectacular shot on the 16th hole at Muirfield on Sunday and I had to watch it on my fecking iPhone.
The phalanx of fans was so tight surrounding the green at 16 that not even a foul-mouthed Irishmen – trying hard to sound like CBS broadcaster David Ferraday – could penetrate the miasma of well-elbowed warm bodies that stood between me and Tiger Woods’s shot that earned him his 73rd PGA tour victory. He’s now tied with Nicklaus and nine wins behind Slammin’ Sammy Snead (82) for most tour wins.
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The shot, a high lofted sand wedge from the outer fringe, soared eye-poppingly heavenward before landing light on the downhill slope, where the ball stuttered blithely for one superfluous second before rolling tremulously, like a shaking leaf, into the hole.
I watched it on a fecking four inch screen, but nimbled through the stunned crowd in time to see the fist pumping antics of the shot’s architect. I was there in 2009 when Tiger hit a similar momentum building shot and the reactions were identical. It brought shivers up my spine.
The roar may have been loud on your Samsung theater system at home, but I will tell you that it shuddered like a space launch in Dublin, Ohio. I felt the earth shake as I snaked my way through the raised hands of that jubilant crowd in time to see Tiger sneak past Rickie Fowler – who played all day in fluorescent orange, looking for all the world like some wayward scofflaw doing community service time – to retrieve that Nike orb from the pocket.
It was Woods fifth Memorial Tournament win at Muirfield Village Golf Club. He clinched the victory with a birdie on 18 with Rory Sabbatini sagging on 17 after trying to chase Tiger down over the last six holes. Tiger won his 73rd Tour title with a final-round, 5-under-par 67. He finished at 9-under 279 to win by two shots over Andres Romero (67) and Rory Sabbatini.
The shot at 16? Nicklaus said it was “the most unbelievably gutsy shot I’ve ever seen.”
Woods broke out early in the round with birdies on four of his first eight holes but then made bogeys at the eighth and 10th. But his late charge included a two-putt birdie at the par-5 15th, the chip in at 16 and a closing birdie from 9 feet at the 18th.
Woods didn’t have a Tour win since 2009 before this year. Is Tiger back? Well, with his win earlier in the season at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, only he, Hunter Mahan and Jason Dufner have multiple (two) wins this season.
The post tourney presser was rife with punditry and speculation. The US Open is just a week and days away, and I have already booked passage to San Francisco.
Chatting with golf’s paparazzi just before Tiger appeared al fresco at the presser, the talk centered around the Open. And whether this win is a line in the sand or just a titillating fluke. Many pundits – some who have been burned obliquely in blanket predictions of Tiger’s epiphany in the past – are taking the high road. Yes, too many scotches had something to do with it. But precious few of the press corps, who love a good story line, want to get precocious on this story. I think you will see less hyperbole and more sibilant soliloquys in the morning blogs dear readers.
They came not to praise Tiger at the press conference on Sunday, but to bask in some free association memento mori and glandular one-upmanship. Rumours of demise come with riders attached. Rudyard Kipling might get a ride in the ripostes. “if you can keep your head… yadda, yadda yadda.
A Memento for your Maury … Vita brevis breviter in brevi finietur,Mors venit velociter quae neminem veretur,Omnia mors perimit et nulli miseretur.Ad mortem festinamus peccare desistamus. Life is short, and shortly it will end;Death comes quickly and respects no one,Death destroys everything and takes pity on no one.To death we are hastening, let us refrain from sinning.
Yes we could not resist the reflexive rejoinder on sinning; adultery, hubris, false gods, yadda, yadda.
There will be, I think, no testosterone-fueled honorifics delivered by the far flung gurus of prognostication. To put it quite simply: Tiger has been here before. A tantalizing run at a Masters upon his return from his own memento mori. For Tiger, that clarion call to mortality came via a nine iron – Elke’s – various trees and water. Common hazards on the links, but not so common in one’s Floridian driveway.
So, has Tiger risen, refreshed to the hunt?
And more importantly will I – unfortunate pundit and feckless optimist – submit to today’s uncommonly distinguished display of iron and will and proclaim Tiger as Phoenix rising.
I talked with two literati – good friends and champions of sport truth – who are well known and unusually blessed young men. They write like Hemingway and they blog too. They partake of twitter and their yammer has been distinguished by a subtle acknowledgement of past hyperbole.
We will take a cue and eschew broad strokes on this already too worn pastiche. And remove to Blake.
Tiger Tiger burning bright…
Find your center, seek the light…
Don’t celebrate with a blonde tonight.
Seamus is on his way to Paris in search of red clay. He may blog a result or two from Roland Garros. get Seamus O at firstname.lastname@example.org[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]