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Tiger's roar restored


By Ryan Phillips



I'm not what you'd call a golf fan. I can't play it, don't watch it and really don't even like to talk about it. In fact, the only enjoyment I've gotten from anything golf-related was watching expert greens keeper Carl Spackler chase gophers around in "Caddyshack." Honestly, I'd rather watch the fairway grow than watch golfers play on it. That was, of course, until this past Sunday at Augusta.\nAfter a first round spent hacking through more thick grass than Ricky Williams on a three-day bender, Tiger Woods made a phenomenal late charge to win his fourth Masters and solidify the fact that he is the best golfer on the planet. \nThursday, Woods made numerous horrible shots and, in classic Tiger fashion, dropped more f-bombs than a HBO special. Seriously folks, if you're gonna watch Tiger struggle through an early round, get all the impressionable children out of the room. \nBut he kept battling and finished that first day at +2.\nRarely have we ever seen Woods as the underdog or as the guy who claws his way back to be competitive. Usually if Tiger isn't in contention after the first day, we don't hear from him for the rest of the tournament. But this weekend, Woods was playing for more than a trophy or an over sized check. He was playing for his ailing father, his pride and to show all the nay-sayers that he was really back. \nAfter seven straight birdies in the third round (played Sunday morning because of rain) and a chip shot for the ages on the 16th hole of the final round, no one could argue that Woods had regained the magic that put him on top of the golfing world several years ago. But then, just as he seemed invincible, he became human again. By bogeying both the 17th and 18th holes, he allowed a hard-charging Chris DiMarco to tie him and send the tournament to a playoff. \nBut this was Woods' day from the beginning, and nothing was going to stand in his way.\nOn the first playoff hole, Tiger had what might have been the most important shot of his career, a 15-foot birdie putt to win the Masters. With his father so sick, he couldn't be in attendance, and with his mother and drop-dead gorgeous ex-nanny wife watching less than 50 feet away, Woods calmly stepped up and sunk it. Then we saw what we became so accustomed to just a few years ago, the "Tiger fist-pump" and celebration. It had been too long since he'd shown that sort of emotion. What we saw Sunday was not the machine-like, seemingly bored Tiger of the past two years. We saw the vulnerable, emotional Tiger that made golf fun to watch just a short time ago. \nNo, I'm serious, golf was fun to watch.\nI know I wasn't the only one watching who started doing the "nah-nah-nah" thing that Ty Webb does to coax his ball into the hole (Note to readers: if you don't like or get "Caddyshack" references, you may want to stop reading) as Tiger's chip on 16 Sunday headed back toward the flag. And I could feel the world with me as I yelled "Noonan, Noonan" in an attempt to distract DiMarco into missing his chip on the first playoff hole. OK, so I was in my room yelling at a TV screen, but I was into it, living and dying with every drive, putt and chip. I was, for a few hours, a golf fan. \nWill we always root for Tiger? Probably not. I mean it's hard to root for someone who's got more money than some countries and has a model for a wife. \nI can't tell you if Tiger is really back or if he'll ever win another major championship. But after watching him Sunday, I can tell you this: I'll be back on my couch next week to watch him again. \nAnd if he never wins another major title, he's still got nine to keep him company. So he's got that going for him, which is nice.

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