Tiger Woods is back in action this week at the 2019 Farmers Insurance Open, but he admitted that he still thinks about the end of last season a lot. How could he not? Woods snagged an iconic 80th PGA Tour victory at the season-ending Tour Championship as thousands spurred him onto victory at East Lake.
You all saw the astonishing, nearly unbelievable photos.
The only people who didn’t see it were actually Woods and his playing partner in the final round, Rory McIlroy. But that hasn’t kept Tiger from going back to drink it all in following a wildly successful first full season back since 2013.
“It gives me chills almost every single time I see it,” said Woods of the East Lake ending. “At the time it didn’t seem like that because I didn’t really look back, I only looked back a couple times over my right shoulder. I didn’t really get a good look until I went to the green.
“After I hit my pitch shot, I got on the green, I looked and I’m like, ‘Holy cow, there’s a lot of people out there.’ But the rush and the commotion that happened, I’ve experienced things like that; ’97 Western Open, the Open Championship at St. Andrews. I’ve experienced things of that nature, but not that energy. That was very different. The energy of the crowd was at just red line and they were so into it. I don’t know, it was more special than … okay, two Open Championships at St. Andrews is pretty special. It has its own aura and its own energy, but this was different.”
It certainly was different. Even though the entire arc of Woods’ season pointed to that event and even though he went into the final round with a lead, it still felt surreal as it unfolded. And no matter what happens in 2019 — outside of perhaps a Masters victory — could even come close to matching it.
“I don’t think [it can be repeated],” Woods said. “Maybe one day it might, who knows. I never thought I ever expected it to get to that level and nobody in this room ever expected for that to even happen so who knows. But all I know is that it was really loud and very special and when I look back on it seeing … the still photos of it because I didn’t realize how many people really had their phone up and screaming and yelling. When you see like some of the photos I have at home where there’s like 70, 80 people in this one little shot and everyone has their phone up, it’s a different time.”
A different time but the same player, even if he’s older and not quite as good as he was in the heart of his career. Last year’s Tour Championship was a reminder to us (and maybe even to him) that the epicenter of golf is a high-performing Tiger Woods and that nothing else even comes close.