(The Root) – For at least one Sunday, it was as if that fateful Thanksgiving night three years ago was a bad dream. The Escalade never crashed, the infidelity never surfaced, the divorce never happened and the downward spiral never occurred.
On this afternoon, Tiger Woods was the Tiger of old, wearing red and crushing foes as he captured yet another golf title. The Memorial Tournament marked just Woods' second victory since 2009, but both came this year. His 67 in Sunday's final round was low for the day and included a shot for the ages, a ridiculous chip in from the heavy rough to birdie the par-3 16th. Tournament host Jack Nicklaus said it was the "most unbelievable, gutsy shot" he'd ever seen.
"I went for it," Woods said afterward. "I pulled it off, and for it to land as soft as it did was kind of a surprise because it was baked out, and it was also downhill running away from me. It just fell in. I didn't think it was going to get there at one point."
It helped Woods earn his 73rd victory on the PGA Tour, tying him with Nicklaus for second place, behind only Sam Snead (82). Tying his idol at his idol's tournament made the milestone even more special, but there was only one question on folks' minds when Woods hoisted the trophy.
Everyone has asked the same query since he won the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March but followed with a tie for 40th in the Masters, a missed cut in the Wells Fargo Championship and a tie for 40th in the Players Championship.
Is he back or not?
"I won," he told reporters to laughter. "I'm sure by Tuesday I'll be retired and done, and then by the time I tee it up at the U.S. Open, it might be something different. But I'll let you guys figure that out."
If nothing else, Woods remains magnetic, which makes him ratings gold for tournaments — especially when he's in contention. The CBS broadcast on Saturday was up 67 percent from last year (when Woods didn't play in the tournament) and up a whopping 138 percent on Sunday.
His victory surely whets the appetites at NBC and ESPN, which will combine to air at least 30 hours of the U.S. Open June 14-17. Woods has won 14 major tournaments, and his quest to catch Nicklaus in that category (18) is golf's most intriguing drama for the foreseeable future. In a very real sense, nothing else matters for Woods except majors.
He was excited to play in the Masters a couple of months ago and bombed. But for what it's worth, Woods said that Sunday's victory makes him more anxious to play the U.S. Open next week at the Olympic Club in San Francisco.
As always, bet against him at your own risk. "I'm excited because of the way I hit the golf ball this week," he said. "I hit the ball really well."
Whether Tiger is all the way back or still has a ways to go is yet to be determined. But he roared again on Sunday, reminding everyone — including himself — what that's like.