(The Root) — Movies can't do it. TV shows are poor substitutes. Broadway plays fall short.
Nothing comes close to matching the human drama of sports when Eldrick "Tiger" Woods is involved. His enthralling storyline compels more than ever, four years after the shocking twist that turned golf and his world upside down.
He turned pro in 1996 and dominated for 14 years before things came to a crashing halt on Thanksgiving night in 2009. Since then we have asked and he has answered a couple of questions:
Would he ever win another tournament? It took 749 days, but he finally did it in December 2011. Yeah, but that wasn't an official event; would he ever win again on the PGA Tour? That took a little longer, but he checked off that box in March. Could he string together victories like before? He has won three times this year, more than any other golfer on the tour.
Now only the most daunting and pressure-filled question remains: Will he ever equal Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 major wins? Woods needs four more to tie, but he's having the hardest time capturing his first since 2008. He's been in position to win each of the four majors this season, only to fall out of contention in the final two rounds.
"I was right there, and I came out with probably the wrong attitude yesterday," Woods said Sunday after a final-round 72 in the PGA Championship left him 11 shots behind the winner. "I was too relaxed and tried to enjoy it, and that's not how I play. I play intense and full systems go. That cost me."
The PGA Championship was Woods' 18th major since winning the 2008 U.S. Open on one leg. The PGA Championship also marked the second time in the past three majors that Woods shared the lead after two rounds but blew his opportunity on Saturdays and Sundays.
"He's just desperate, which is a very human property that just about every other player, bar Tiger Woods, used to be," Golf Channel commentator Frank Nobilo told the New York Times. "Now, Tiger, at the moment, when he is desperate, then all of the sudden his golf becomes — I would never use the word 'ordinary,' but it comes pretty close to it."
So to the overarching question — "Is Tiger back?" — the answer remains a resounding "no." He might never return, either, at least not to the level we grew accustomed to. Winning the next major might be harder than his first 14, as speculation mounts that fresh-faced golfers are ready to blow past him.
"The thing is to keep putting myself [in contention]," Woods said. "I'm not going to win them all, and I haven't won them all, so I certainly have lost a lot more than I've won."
Win or lose, he makes for an absolutely fascinating drama. There's probably another 10 or more years to come. If he can get over his weekend woes, he'll be even more interesting.