Is Tiger Woods back?
After his 4-shot victory at the Farmers Insurance Open on Monday at Torrey Pines, the 75th win of his career, Woods said no, he's not back. Because that statement is not applicable.
Since his personal and physical problems late in 2009, Woods has not been the dominant athlete he once was. He's been through a divorce, surgeries, and a complete swing reconstruction.
But this week in La Jolla, when he played the par-5's in 12-under and built an 8-shot lead before settling for his final cushion, Woods looked like the same dominant player he was from 2006 to 2008. Or, perhaps, that dominant player he still is.
"I'm not going to compare it to those years because each one's different," said Woods after winning for the 8th time as a pro at Torrey Pines (7 Farmers Insurance Open titles, 1 U.S Open). "I had a different swing then, just like I did back in '99, 2000, 2001. Those are all different swings. But the commonality is I won golf tournaments, and that's what I'm doing again."
Woods won six times in 2009, then went winless for two years. In 2012, he finally got back to the top of the leaderboard, winning tournaments hosted by Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and himself. But he struggled in Major championships, twice failing to win after holding at least a share of the 36-hole lead.
It'll take a while for us to know for sure if Woods is, truly, "back" (for lack of a better term). Torrey Pines is his playground. Remember, he won the 2008 U.S. Open here on one leg. San Diego has always been near to his heart.
"I feel comfortable down here," said Woods. "My dad said that very early on if he didn't settle in Orange County, if he would have come down here a little bit farther, he would have lived down here, and I probably would have been born and raised down here. But, he settled for Orange County, and that's where I grew up"
His fondness for our town is deserved. He also won 3 Match Play titles at La Costa Resort and Spa, and before even turning pro won six Junior World Championships here.
We'll have to see if his new swing will work outside of Southern California, on courses like Augusta National, before we can say he's the best player on the planet again.
But for now, Woods feels the same way about this win as the rest of the golf world does.
"I'm excited about this year."