You know at some point that Tiger Woods was pretty aware of what was happening down there in Mexico City last Sunday.
You know he wanted to be there, but for the time being, he’s not ranked high enough to get back into those WGC events that he dominated for years.
You know at some point, when Phil Mickelson walked away with a playoff victory over Justin Thomas, that somewhere up in his palatial digs on Jupiter Island, a relaxed Eldrick kicked back, took a sip of his favorite beverage and thought to himself:
“I got this.”
Yes, now more than ever, Woods is brimming with confidence. It’s the old “anything Phi can do I can do better,” wisdom because for the past two and half decades, everything Phil has done, Tiger has done a lot better.
Try this on:
PGA Tour wins: Tiger 79, Phil 43.
Major titles: Tiger 14, Phil 5.
WGC wins: Tiger 18, Phil 3.
Yes, anything Phil can do, Tiger can do better — at least on the golf course.
That’s why just maybe, perhaps and it’s really not all that far fetched, we could see Phil and Tiger go back-to-back wins on the PGA Tour.
This Valspar Championship at picturesque Innisbrook just northwest of downtown Tampa, is a pretty good opportunity for Woods.
There are several reasons.
First, you have to have a strategy to succeed on the Copperhead course. This one is such a good layout that it really has no need for a “Snake Pit.” Tour events have gotten a bit out of hand, coming up with names for what they perceive as strategic holes — The Bear Trap, The Green Mile, The Snake Pit. Just trying to copy Augusta National and “Amen Corner.” Fact is, even Augusta National is more than “Amen Corner.” A lot of hopes have drowned on the 15th and 16th holes and the 18th as well.
But we digress, back to Innisbrook.
On this comeback gig of Tiger’s, he’s been pretty effective when he doesn’t have to hit driver and he doesn’t need to hit driver on a bunch of holes out there on the Copperhead. As for the “Snake Pit” there’s no water on the 17th and 18th holes, they are really not that hard compared to the 15th and 17th at PGA National and the 16th at Copperhead is now an iron off the tee for Woods and a lot of player, even fairway woods. No driver needed. Water on the right side of the hole, no water anywhere near the green. Same for the 18th, no water in sight, room on the right to bail, short of the green, right side on your approach is okay. In all, if you’re playing well, no way you get bit by the “Snake Pit.”
Also consider this:
Mickelson had to beat the best players in the world last week, including the worlds No. 1, No. 2, No. 3, No. 4 and No. 5-ranked players.
In this field, Dustin Johnson’s not there (No. 1), Justin Thomas isn’t there (No. 2), John Rahm’s absent (No. 3), no Hideki Matsuyama (No. 6), no Rickie Fowler (No. 7), No Brooks Koepka (No. 8), no Jason Day (No. 9) and no Tommy Fleetwood (No. 10). There is, however, Jordan Spieth (4th) and Justin Rose (5th). No big deal, Woods can handle those guys if his putter stays warm.
Which brings us to putting. Putting is a big deal this week. The Copperhead greens have all sorts of undulations that can drive you crazy. Can’t wait to see Rory McIlroy go at it the way he’s been putting. He better get that part of his game in order in a hurry.
Which brings us back to the World’s No. 388.
Tiger Woods has a real, live chance to win this thing.
He’s putting really well, his short game is splendid so far during this Tiger Woods Traveling Comeback Show.
It’s possible, it really is.
Phil Mickelson made us believe, probably made Tiger believe even more.