At the end of Day 2 of the 2012 Ryder Cup, Tiger Woods treated fans to a birdie barrage, the likes of which they used to expect during golf’s biggest moments from the former World No. 1.
On Saturday, Woods treated Ryder Cup onlookers to much of the same in the afternoon four-ball match with partner Steve Stricker, where he made two clutch birdie putts on holes 16 and 17, keeping the match close enough to come down to a dramatic finish on No. 18. Amidst Team USA’s dominance, the pairing of Woods / Stricker can’t claim it did anything to help the team, going 0-3 over the course of the first two days.
But even with Woods’ Ryder Cup record stuck at a mediocre-to-bad 13-17-2 for his career, he still showed all the grit and determination that the sports world was accustomed to seeing from the old Tiger.
You know, the player that lapped fields at majors, fist-pumped his way around golf courses and intimidated anyone who teed it up with him. His play signaled that he’s ready to take the next step in his game and become what the golf world needs him to be — he was Tiger Woods. Yes, that Tiger Woods.
He made clutch putts, including two on No. 17 on consecutive days that extended the match for the Americans, despite losing both. It’s that magical putter, the one that always seemed to make the ball find the bottom of the cup no matter the circumstances, that has defined Woods’ legend. Stricker, who has always been a tremendous putter, struggled mightily on the greens, leaving putts short and low with regularity.
Moving into the final day of competition, the United States will hold a commanding 10-6 lead and needs only 14.5 points to overcome the Europeans. Woods will play in a singles match, and if he can dominate, it will substantiate his stellar play. What a shame that the Woods / Stricker team couldn’t capitalize on its strong play in the afternoons, but it will all be forgotten should Team USA take care of business and get those elusive 4.5 necessary points for victory.
Here’s to hoping that and a resurgence of Tiger Woods as we once knew him happens for the good of the game.
Michael C. Jones is the Editor of Sports Out West. You can follow him on Twitter @MikeJonesTweets