As it turns out, Tiger Woods is still good at golf. I mean really, freakishly good. Of course, if you follow golf at all and you’re reading this, you know that already.
Then, when you realize the fact that Woods is 37 years old, on his third major swing rebuild of his career and has overcome several knee surgeries and other assorted injuries, the idea that he could be on pace for the most wins he’s ever had in a single PGA Tour season is even more incredible.
That’s the goal Woods must have in mind when he steps to the first tee at Muirfield Village this Thursday to open the Memorial Tournament. Despite facing one of the most stacked fields outside the major championships, Woods must be considered a strong favorite for his fifth win of 2013.
It’s well known that Woods spends most of his year focusing on the four majors, so it stands to reason that he would have his game in top form leading into this one. Considering that, Woods could probably call Muirfield Village his home away from home. His dominance at this event is unprecedented, a five-time Memorial champion. The next closest player to Woods is Kenny Perry with three wins. Even tournament-host Jack Nicklaus, whose major championship record Woods is chasing, only won Memorial twice.
Speaking of Nicklaus, you might remember his reaction to Woods’s unbelievable chip-in on the 16th hole in last year’s final round. Down as many as four shots at one point, Woods was chasing leader Rory Sabbatini down when he hit an 8-iron long on the par-3. Opening a wedge as flat as he could, Woods hit a flop shot that he had just hoped to get close, but then lit the crowd on fire when the ball dropped in the hole, followed by a vintage Woods fist pump.
Nicklaus, from the broadcast booth, wasn’t shy with his amazement at the shot, “That was the most unbelievable, gutsy shot I’ve ever seen,” the Golden Bear said. “I don’t think, under the circumstances, I’ve ever seen a better shot.”
Woods has entered a zone unlike almost anything even he has done. With the US Open set to begin in just over two weeks, you know he’s going to be laser-focused on the task at hand. A win at Memorial would also give Woods another goal to shoot for — his own personal record of nine in a season. In 2000, Woods won at Memorial for his fourth of that year. That was also the year he won the year’s final three majors en route to the “Tiger Slam”.
Is that a bit much to ask? Of course it is. But when the best player in the world is on top of his game, look out. Not much has ever been able to stop him.