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Thursday, May 23
The Indiana Daily Student

Is Tiger's growl back?

Tiger Woods is back. Well, at least the suit-and-tie administrators of the PGA tour are hoping so. \nAmid all the hoopla that surrounded the AFC and NFC championship games last weekend in Pennsylvania, Tiger quietly won his first official stroke play tournament since October 2003 on the other side of the country in San Diego. Sure, it was only the Buick Invitational, but for Tiger, wins on the tour in the past two years have come as often as successful Ben Affleck flicks.\nEver since his impressive 2002 season when he won two majors, Tiger's ferocious growl has turned into more of meek meow. Some have blamed his marriage to Swedish model Elin Nordegren as a deterrent to his performance. Another answer to the "What happened to Tiger?" question perhaps can be provided with his decision to alter his swing during the 2003 and 2004 season. Tiger's new swing has been anything but consistent. At the end of the 2004 season, Tiger's driving accuracy ranked 182nd on the tour.\nAdding to his miserable 2004 season, Vijay Singh swiped Woods' No. 1 world ranking in September, a title Woods held for a remarkable 264 weeks. \nSome contend that Woods isn't slumping because he is still the No. 2 ranked golfer in the world. But let's face it, folks, if Tiger isn't winning majors, he's slumping.\nI am hoping this Sunday's win is Woods' first step in returning to his former self. The PGA Tour just isn't the same without him. Ratings have sunk during his slump, which hurts the TV stations, advertisers and sponsors. The average sports fan (including the guy writing this column) is not as likely to tune in if Tiger isn't in the hunt. \nMeanwhile, Singh has stepped up to be the tour's premiere golfer. Wow. He sure is one exciting player to watch. I guess Phil Mickelson winning the Masters for his first Major title in 46 tries sure was a nice story, but that's only if you like fat white guys in green jackets.\nSo will 2005 be the year for Woods' comeback? Well, if this weekend's win is any indication, he is going to need to play a little better. He started out the round at the foggy Torrey Pines course with three straight bogeys. Tiger also got a visit from good ol' lady luck over the weekend. On the 18th hole Sunday, Woods badly miss hit a 2-iron, and his ball luckily landed on a strip of fairway next to a pond. Tom Lehman, who was in contention to win on the back nine, faltered at a crucial moment with 2 bogeys on 17 and 18 to give Woods a three-shot win. After the round Lehman said of Woods, "He whipped the field playing lousy. I give him a lot of credit."\nEither way you want to look at it, a win is a win. And that's what champions do; they find a way to win no matter what the circumstances are. My prediction is Woods will get a win at one of the four majors this year and reclaim his spot as the world's top golfer. \nLike Ashley needs Mary-Kate, golf needs Tiger. So please, Tiger, we're counting on you.

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