Arnold Palmer Invitational: Arnie has last laugh as Tiger slinks away
Never thought I’d read this in a month of Sundays. “Woods … played the back nine like an amateur - and not necessarily a very good amateur.” A pretty bad-tempered amateur I’d say, jumping straight in his car afterwards and driving off in a huge huff. I reckon Arnold Palmer finally got what he wanted in spades. Tiger Woods, the greatest golfer on the planet, was made to pay for his first-round hubris.
So this wasn’t to be another tale of the Pied Piper of Florida, but of an old master claiming a much-desired crown that has eluded him over the years. It seems an age since we were getting excited by Vijay Singh’s January victory in the Mercedes Championship and predicting bigger and better things for the Fijian after a poor 2006. He told us he was a remade golfer, ready to be more aggressive. Then he largely disappeared from the radar.
Yet now you look back and see that in eight strokeplay events this season he has two firsts and has never been outside the top 40. Pretty hot for a guy in his mid-40s. Oh, and who’s that behind him? The ultimate comeback kid Rocco Mediate. He looked a goner after Saturday’s horror, but hit a stonking 67 on Sunday, one of only four sub-par rounds on the day. Like Vijay he’s 44. Also like Vijay, I reckon we’re going to see an awful lot more of him before the Champions Tour beckons.
And wouldn’t you know it, just three places further back is 48-year-old Tom Lehman. The old gits are certainly making their impact on the tour this year.
All this on a course that commentators were comparing by the end to a US Open. That’s an exaggeration. Without the wind this struck me as a pussy cat compared to, for instance, the Copperhead the previous week which was a monster even on relatively lifeless days.
Some straws in the wind: Luke Donald sneaked into eighth place with a final round 69. Took a while to get over that Las Vegas stag do. And even Sean O’Hair seems to have decided to give up playing Rip van Winkle.
Both Stephen Ames and Trevor Immelman have finally followed up their impressive matchplay performances with a strong strokeplay show, while another great European hope, Henrik Stenson, is beginning to float to the top. But for his costly generosity earlier, and an appalling double bogey at the 18th Sunday, Boo Weekley would have notched his third top ten of the year.
Unfortunately, though, K J Choi’s season seems to have gone a little off the rails. He had to pull out Sunday with back trouble.
PS: Back to that man Tiger. It couldn’t possibly be, could it, that with all these other distractions he has, and the onset of fatherhood, Tiger’s becoming just a teensy-weensy bit tired of the ordinary competition grind? Especially now there are no record streaks to chase? Nah, cant be true, can it?
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