Was there any chance that Tiger was going to miss that 16-foot birdie putt? Everyone knew it was coming. It was just a matter of how dark it would be when Tiger would sink the putt to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational on the 72ndhole. Starting the day 5 strokes behind Sean O’hair, Tiger fought back quickly to get within stroke by the 8th hole, but O’Hairfought back, birdieing number nine andreaching the turn with a two stroke lead. A combination of O’Hair bogeying 10 and Tiger birdieing 13 left the two tied after the 15th hole. Even more, Tiger took the lead on 16 when O’Hairbogeyed. The lead was short-lived though as a poor tee shot left Tiger with a bogey on the par-3 17th. The two entered the 72nd hole tied. Who did you expect would win?
Woods and O’Hair both reached the green in regulation, leaving themselves pretty lengthy puts though. First up, O’Hair hits his putt short and to the left, leaving the ball about 4 feet away from the hole. You could hear murmurs rise in the crowd as everyone knew that Tiger had a shot to win it. He spoke with his caddie, aligned the ball, and measured the precise line of the putt. Finally, as anticipation reached its peak, Tiger stepped up to his ball. A clean stroke and the ball made its way towards the hole. Just as it was about a yard away from the hole, Tiger takes a skip step backward before pumping his fist in the air as the ball smoothly sank into the cup. Tiger had done it again.
So, was this sensational performance a Tiger classic? Here’s the checklist for a Tiger classic:
1. Tiger must enter the final round down by at least 4 strokes – Check
2. Tiger must be wearing a red shirt for the final round – Check
3. Tiger must chase a likeable figure, who viewers sympathize with – Check
4. Tiger must fight his way back, but never quite grab the lead – Check
5. Tiger must sink a lengthy putt on the 72nd hole to win – Check
6. Tiger must pump his fist into the air after he sinks the putt – Check
Yes, this was a Tiger classic. Oh yea, I forgot to mention this was his third tournament back from knee surgery. Now, to be fair, Tiger didn’t shoot lights-out like a normal Tiger classic, where he hits perfect shot after shot to win. O’Hair shot +3 on the round, allowing Tiger to climb back into contention. Tiger, however, took the lead on 16, but then BOGEYED it away on 17. How often does Tiger take a lead on the 70th hole and then give it back on the 71st? So, maybe it wasn’t a perfect Tiger classic, but add in the fact that its only his 3rd tournament back and it was pretty spectacular. The Masters are coming up quickly and one can only imagine what drama he has in store for the first major.