The Circus is coming to town.
Yes, the Tiger Woods Big-Top is on its way to Innisbrook and the locals are going crazy.
So much for the “Are You Ready For Rory?” ad campaign.
Rory just got kicked to the curb.
It’s now more like: “Are You Elated For Eldrick?”
Beyond elated, the Copperheads — those guys responsible for pushing tickets and pimping the event — just went into a frenzy. No rumor that they found hundreds of empty champagne bottles scattered about the grounds at Innsbrook Resort Friday afternoon, not long after “The Great Stiney” aka Mark Stineberg, gave the folks who run The Valspar a jingle on his cell phone and let them know that his guy — Tiger Woods — would be showing up this week in Palm Harbor for the first time in 22 years.
Last time Tiger Woods played at Innisbrook was the 1996 J.C. Penney Mixed Team competition where he finished third with Kelli Kuehne, giving her some seed money to start her LPGA career. Our fading memory recalls that they earned in the neighborhood of something like $50,000 or $60,000 each for finishing third. For those who care, Mike Hulbert and Donna Andrews won that year.
Nowdays, $60,000 wouldn’t even buy a tank of gas for Tiger’s luxury mega-yacht — The Privacy.
So now that Woods is coming, the place will be packed. They play the Copperhead course at Innisbrook, a testy layout that does not easily yield birdies. It’s a par 71, it has an extra par three, for a total of five. Adam Hadwin shot 14-under last year to win and got away with shooting even par 71 on Sunday. It was playing tough over the final 18.
The course is good for Woods — not an overwhelming number of driver shots required. The Copperhead is a course that requires a strategy and Woods is a master strategist. There are nice elevation changes, something you don’t find in South Florida. The Copperhead looks like it belongs somewhere in North Carolina. The greens will be the best Woods has played on so far. He should make a lot of putts. He will have to stay out of the rough, that stuff gets nasty on the Copperhead.
Woods will also bring a lot of commotion to the grounds. That’s what Tiger Woods does, he packs the joint. He’s golf’s greatest curiosity and now that he played pretty decent at The Honda two weeks ago, it sure looks like he’s serious about this comeback stuff and very, very serious about getting ready for The Masters the first week of April.
He just played back-to-back at The Genesis and Honda and now he’ll do it again with Innisbrook and Bay Hill. This go-round should give everyone a clearer picture on the overall state of his game.
Some Vegas odds-makers have already boosted Woods’ chances at Augusta. Westgate has him now at 15-1, ahead of Rickie Fowler and Hideki Matsuyama, both at 16-1.
In the meantime, the folks running the Valspar are sending for reinforcements.
They need 200 more volunteers, more security, more parking lots, more shuttle buses, more food, more port-a-johns, more of everything.
Chaos is on its way.
The Circus Is Coming.
It’s the Tiger Woods Big-Top.