Okay so this happened Sunday ……
And immediately the sports world lost their collective shit. Tiger then proceeded to par the final hole at Copperhead, leaving some fans to wonder why he didn’t take out the big stick in pursuit of a do or die birdie.
I understand that some people don’t like that Tiger hit iron of the tee on 18 this past Sunday. Some people are saying that only “Casual fans” think the play was passive, while other people are clamoring all “golf fans” understand the lack of driver. I’d say there is some healthy overlap there – I feel very confident that even some passionate followers of the game were disappointed that Tiger didn’t take out at least 3 wood and have a go.
My personal opinion? I empathise with every fan that wanted Tiger to bomb one down the 72nd hole, but I tend to lean towards agreeing with the move by the GOAT. Here is why:
- Consistency – He made the same exact decision the prior 3 days. Same club, same distance, same approach shot.
- Pin location – the back right pin on 18 at Copperhead is a tough birdie pin. It’s deep enough in the green to make a lofted high iron/wedge difficult, considering that the slope would take any ball with spin away from the cup in a hurry. Tiger probably thought hitting a low 7 iron short of the pin and letting the ball release up the slope is the best play to get it in reasonable birdie range.
- He’s the greatest long iron player the game has ever seen. That means if your Tiger you do what you do best: go long iron off the tee, hit the fairway, hit another long iron into the green. If you miss the fairway off the tee you have no hope of putting yourself in position to make birdie. Every great golfer plays the hole backwards: where can I miss to keep myself in contention? On the 18th at Innisbrook, the only answer is the fairway.
There are counterpoints to the above:
- He didn’t make birdie rounds 1-3. Do something different! You need a three!
- IT’s TIGER WOODS – he could threaten that pin with 150 left and is talented enough to not spin it out of range
For most, even after having some time to decompress, it still sounds a little too rational – a little too calculated. People want great athletes to be ultra instinctive and give into the moment from an emotional perspective. While some purists argue that succumbing to emotion is always the wrong thing to do in golf, I’d disagree with that. I think some players in that exact scenario Sunday need to pull out driver and incur the associated risk. Others need to value the fairway and trust their long irons. Tiger has earned the right to decide between those two choices, and I for one trust that man’s decision.
All arguments aside – Tiger ended up 5-6 yards from where he wanted to be after the second shot. It wasn’t his best, he’d be the first one to tell you that. That being said he made his call, and he was right there.
The beauty in Tiger Woods is that he doesn’t cares about what spectactors/pundits think- and that may just be the foundation to his greatness. Regardless, this resurgence is going to be fun.