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The Tiger Roars Back.
If Woods had misplaced his game over the summer months he clearly found it again for this American Express $6M tournament in the World Golf Championship series.

Woods must have been inspired by the $1M on offer for first place for he could not have been inspired by the Crabapple course of the Capital City Golf Club. You will find this place just north of Atlanta although why on earth anybody would look for it is beyond my comprehension. This is a cantankerous course, yet only 18 months old with all of the attributes of maturing into an unappealing place to play golf. The Crabapple epitomises the modern American golf course; it is long, grassy, densely roughed with big bunkers and greens that appear to have been made by an irritated civil engineer specialising in concrete. This is not a place of great subtlety. Indeed, it is as red-necked as they come and the only thing that could have induced the best players in the world to play it for a week is money.

Some sage said that the root of all evil is money. It can only be for money that this tournament was staged at this place and it can only be for money that so few players have come out and voiced an opinion on this place. Their silence speaks volumes. But it is the silence of both TV and press pundits that is astonishing. They must see the consequences of playing big money tournaments at such places. If they don't, the paying public certainly do for this is yet another big money event from which they have stayed away in their droves. Only Tiger leading the field on the last day brought them out to tell him that he was the greatest and to shout instructions to his ball to get in the hole.

This win gives Woods his 7th World Golf Championship title out of 14 starts -- it is actually 8 wins if you count his team win with David Duval in 2001. It also places him comfortably for the leading money winner title, yet again, and a virtual certainty for the player of the year award as well. It is the fifth successive year that he has won five tournaments in a year and he wishes it to be known that it is his caddie, Steve Williams' 100 tour win on a bag. But what is really remarkable is that this is the 11th time that he has led a tournament throughout to a win. Now, that takes nerve as well as self-confidence.

Indeed, it is Woods' self-belief that has brought him roaring back into dominance again. After all of his well discussed agonies with his driver he did not hit any more fairways this week that he has of late. He did, however, hit them when he had to -- most notably at the 379-yard hole were he drove the green. He was bold, but no more so than usual. His chip, or rather his very lofted lob from the front of the tenth green was audacious and certainly the shot of the week. But, as is so often the case on these modern American courses, it is the putting that counts and it is in this department that he has been noticeably below par all summer. Clearly the brick hard and ludicrously fast greens of the Crabapple course were to his liking for not since the 2000 Open on the Old course has he putted with such consistency, confidence and assurance.
Tiger Woods won this 1M dollar event with a four round total of

©    9 - OCTOBER 2003

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