Anand Datla

Woods remains golf’s greatest pied piper

Tiger Woods was far from his best in the Farmers Insurance Open, but played well enough for a top 30 finish

Tiger Woods enjoyed a solid week in the Farmers Insurance Open

29 January, 2018: Sport is a grind, even for the great men and women. But even the grind seems attractive though, especially when these champions make their strides. In San Diego, Tiger Woods played a full week for the first time since the Wyndham in 2015. The 14 time major champion drew enormous crowds and wild cheers as he burnt his backside just to stay on for the weekend.

Life on the PGA TOUR is becoming an increasingly perilous existence.

A third straight playoff on the PGA TOUR underlines the intense competition for titles. Jason Day, winner over Alex Noren and Ryan Palmer, needed a sixth hole to put the Farmers Insurance Open to bed.

John Rahm needed just as many to take the CareerBuilder Challenge. Patton Kizzire needed to endure a four hole play-off before he took the Sony Open title.

Woods was never in the reckoning at Torrey Pines, the site of his last major victory. In fact, he was facing the grave risk of missing the cut. It took a nervous birdie at the 18th on Friday to put himself back in the ring.

“Overall, I’m very pleased,” Woods said. “After not playing for a couple of years and coming out here on tour, you know, it was a solid four days. I had to fight for every score on every hole, and sometimes those are more pleasing than boring rounds. I can grind it out with the best of them.”

After a year away from competition, it would be remiss if his game wasn’t rusty. And it was. He was barely making the fairways.

“The short game wasn’t something I was worried about coming in this week,” he added. “I need to work on my driving. These are some of the narrowest fairways on the whole tour, so when I don’t have my best stuff, and now it’s windy, it just compounded it. It made it very difficult for me.

But when it mattered the most, Woods stood up like the champion he is, to deliver the goods. That should please the great man on his final lap around the circuit. At 42, Woods hasn’t got father time on his bag.

There was a time when Roger Federer and Woods had a quiet race toward immortality. While the American was stalled in his tracks due to injury and personal strife, the Swiss went ahead collecting silver.

On Sunday, Federer collected his 20th grand slam title. Woods is stuck on 14, without a victory of such magnitude for nearly a decade.

Only time will tell of Woods can make amends and produce some old magic to add to his tally of majors. Meanwhile, both the game and its fans are just happy to see their hero back on the meadows.

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