Can’t tell you how many Jock Blogs in the last eight months have centered around the search for normalcy — in the sound of baseball on the radio, or college football on a Saturday morning or . . .
Tiger Woods at Augusta National Golf Club.
As the nation grapples with the encroachment of an uncertain, pandemic-infused holiday season, we grasp for even more security blankets. And like the familiarity of a Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, there was Tiger on our TV screen Thursday, marching through the pines and our consciousness as he has ever since his history-making win in 1997.
Not to be confused with his history-making win at the last Masters, in April 2019.
That’s how long Tiger’s been burned in our TV brains from the Georgia landscape.
1997! The Giants were still at Candlestick Park! Your dial-up modem seemed lightning fast! And that’s how long ago we’ve associated Tiger with this backdrop of green carpet, tributaries of Rae’s Creek and the friendly greeting from Jim (Friend of the Program) Nantz, set to the faint tinkles of a piano in the background.
Hello, Tiger, old friend.
If you missed it, Tiger, who will turn 45 next month, looked great on Thursday. His limp-free walk. His distance control. His relaxed manner. His first bogey-free opening round at the Masters — and he’s played a lot of opening rounds at the Masters.
We spent the week hyperventilating about how Bryson DeChambeau was going to go King Kong on Augusta National, holding the course in his golf glove like Fay Wray while he trashed the landscape.
I know it’s only one round, but look who’s looking up at Tiger on the leaderboard?
Tiger shot 68. DeChambeau shot 70. Funny how the little white ball won’t go in the hole just off how far you drive it.
Tiger’s driving distance on Thursday was 281 yards. DeChambeau’s was 334 yards. But Tiger hit 15 greens; Bryson hit 11. There ya go, sports fans.
Sure, there’s a long way to go; and sure, there are still many younger players who can outlast Old Man Tiger come the weekend. But to have the cognitive dissonance of a Masters in November be offset by the soothing sight of Tiger playing outstanding golf at a Masters helped the soul.
Golf nuts can remember the day in 1995 when Arnold Palmer (four green jackets) and Jack Nicklaus (six green jackets) played a practice round with baby Tiger and told the media they thought he could win as many green jackets as the two of them combined. Granted, a bit of hyperbole, since 10 green jackets is sort of bonkers. But Tiger won his 5th last April, and considering the pressure put on him by The King and The Bear back then, he’s pretty much delivered.
Is a 6th, Jack-tying jacket, in the pandemic cards?
The best part is, after Thursday, it’s a possibility. Just what we need in days like this.