Tiger Wins In Advance of Ryder Cup

I’ve written about golf previously here, and it was really hard not to fall into the narrative that is pervasive in golf these days. When Franceso Molinari won the Open Championship, lost in his victory was a strong performance by tiger Woods. Forget that Molinari was the first Italian golfer to win a major. Tiger looked good for the first time in X years and he got pretty close to winning (even though he didn’t really), and the stories were “Is Tiger Back?” and all that. I am guilty of writing that story as well.
When Brooks Koepka won the PGA Championship, the stories again were focused on Tiger, though this time they may have been more warranted because he actually finished in second place, though Koepka had sealed it up with a few holes to go and the final margin was only as close as it was (2 strokes) because of a meaningless birdie by Tiger on his final hole. Those same “Is tiger Back?” questions persisted, and many people – including me – questioned whether two months of golf was enough to get Tiger on the Ryder Cup team (apparently it was).

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Brooks Koepka Wins PGA Championship

It was ultimately an anti-climactic finish at the PGA Championship.
When Brooks Keopka putted for par on the 18th hole Sunday, he knew that he had won. Tiger Woods’ latest chase ended a few minutes earlier, albeit with a birdie on the final hole, but he never truly threatened the leader. Keopka went out in 33, 4 under par for the day, and nearly widened the gap with a birdie putt on that 18th hole. He settled for a par, and became the fifth golfer ever – after Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus, and Tiger Woods – to win both the US Open and PGA Championship in the same year.
Koepka entered the final round with a 2 stroke lead over Adam Scott, leading them to be paired as the last group for Sunday play. Koepka recovered after some early bogeys on holes 4 and 5, finishing the front nine with three straight birdies to move to 14-under for the tournament. He managed to hold off the ever present Tiger, who was playing a group or two behind with the bulk of the roving crowd following his play, and his playing partner Scott, whose hope for an eagle to challenge for a playoff ended with a poor drive off the 18th tee. 

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Molinari Wins The Open Championship

In case you missed it, Francesco Molinari became the first Italian to win a major golf championship on Sunday. And he did it in relatively dominant fashion, with his last 37 holes at or below par. His victory was sealed when Xander Schauffele bogeyed the 17th hole on Sunday, placing him two back and needing an eagle on the Par-4 18th to force a playoff. It was compelling golf for that reason alone, but a return of sorts for Tiger Woods may have been the story of the weekend.
I don’t mean to discount Molinari’s performance, and writing about Tiger seems to be the angle that a lot of coverage took this morning. But Tiger Woods was one of the reasons that I really started caring about gold 20 years ago, and his absence from the top of the golf leader board over the past few years has led me away from the game, so I was pleased to wake up to tweets that he was leading the tournament early Sunday.

To say that Tiger has had some issues would be an understatement. Once thought destined to challenge Jack Nicklaus for career major championships, it has now been a long ten years since his last victory in one of golf’s four majors, his 2008 victory in the U.S. Open. He has been less than dominant in that decade, with large stretches away from the game to deal with both personal issues and injuries, including multiple back surgeries.

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