Tiger Woods Rediscovers Winning Feeling
The Escalade that he crashed on Thanksgiving 2009 was the beginning of a long and winding road for Tiger Woods, taking him from voice mails to divorce court, from surgery to revamped swing, from new coach to new caddie (the human version).
But there was never a win along the way.
Until Sunday, when he birdied the last two holes to win the Chevron World Challenge by one stroke. And just like that, it was as if the former No. 1 golfer had never gone away. There he was, in his traditional red shirt, pumping his fist and letting out a roar.
"It feels normal," he told reporters afterward. "I know it's been a while, but also for some reason it feels like it hasn't. It's pretty funny because one of my buddies texted me this morning [with] an old LL Cool J lyric: 'Don't call it a comeback; I been here for years.' "
It was his first victory in 749 days, or since he won the Australian Masters on Nov. 15, 2009.
There are qualifiers for sure. The Chevron World Challenge is not a regular PGA Tour event but a charitable tournament that Woods hosts. The field features just 18 golfers, not the full complement of 144 that start most tournaments.
And Woods has a history of success at the venue -- Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, Calif. -- where he had won the event four times previously.
Those factors led to instant debate on the victory's significance. Some observers poked fun at Wood's jubliant celebration, as if he'd won another Grand Slam tournament. Others tried to slow down talk of a Woods revival.
But like a man dying of thirst in the desert given a cold drink, Woods doesn't care if it's water, iced tea or lemonade.
Did the victory spark a feeling of joy? Satisfaction? Relief?
"It feels awesome, whatever it is," he said in an NBC interview.
Watching him hoist another championship trophy, the feeling was mutual.