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Tiger Is Back!

Greetings from The Booth!

It was great to see lots of Shenandoah University fans, athletes, coaches, and dignitaries this past Saturday in Winchester, braving a brisk 40-degree morning to be a part of the ribbon cutting of the renovated baseball and softball fields at Jim Barnett Park. The ceremony was culmination of creative thinking from SU and the City to give the Hornet softball and baseball programs a home field they can call their own, and also provide local teams like the Winchester Royals upgraded facilities they can be proud of. Speakers included emotional Hornet baseball coach Kevin Anderson, and Shenandoah President Dr. Tracy Fitzsimmons, who called the project a “win-win.” It was a great morning, one that I’m sure many thought would never come because of the challenges posed by COVID.

Well, it’s Masters Week, with golf’s first “major” set for this weekend at beautiful Augusta National. I’ll admit that for me, this was going to be a boring Masters. Many of the game’s top players are not on top of their game right now. New names we don’t really know have been winning golf tournaments in 2022. A name we do know, Phil Mickelson, has fallen from grace because of his controversial comments about the Saudis, and has self-isolated. He will not be a part of the 2022 Masters. I felt no “buzz” heading into this week.

Then came the appearance of Tiger Woods at Augusta. His early-week practice round drew large crowds, and there was much anticipation that he would give it a go on Thursday morning. Tiger confirmed the rumors on Tuesday, and the Masters was given the storyline it needed.

Tiger Woods believes he can win another green jacket this week, and said as much. He wouldn’t play otherwise. His competitive fires still burn. The issue this week, aside from making the cut (which would be an amazing story in it’s own right) is one of endurance. Tiger hasn’t played competitive golf since late 2020, three months before the car crash that almost took his leg, and could very well have taken his life. It remains to be seen if Woods can walk 4 consecutive days around a hilly Augusta National.

There’s also the fact that the top golfers in the world are also vying for one of golf’s top prizes. To beat the Masters field when you have your “A” game is tough enough, let alone when you are returning after 14 months. Win or lose, Tiger just playing at the 2022 Masters is the sport’s version of the Alex Smith story. Winning would be almost incomprehensible, and would certainly trump his win at Augusta in 2019.

But don’t count him out. Tiger Woods has a flair for the moment. He is well aware that another green jacket would give him six, which would tie him with the great Jack Nicklaus, a man Tiger still thinks he can catch in the race for all-time majors (18). Tiger is also well aware that winning the Masters would be arguably the greatest comeback story in sports history.

Reason enough to hope Tiger is prowling the back nine at Augusta National late Sunday afternoon.

Until the next visit from The Booth…enjoy the golf, and GO HORNETS!

RW

 

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