Sobel: Tiger on the Brink of the Impossible

Sobel: Tiger on the Brink of the Impossible article feature image

Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Tiger Woods reacts on the fourth hole during the third round of the Tour Championship golf tournament at East Lake Golf Club.

  • Tiger Woods is the 54-hole leader at the Tour Championship and enters Sunday leading the field by three strokes.
  • After coming close twice this season, Woods is poised for his first PGA Tour win since 2013.

I didn’t think Tiger Woods would ever win again.

I’m not saying this as some sort of skeptic or hater. I’m saying it as a realist.

Rather than formulate opinions based on bias, I simply listened to the man. I considered his words. I thought about what they meant.

It was impossible to hear Woods and believe this day would ever come — the day he just might be on the verge of an 80th career PGA Tour victory, and his first since August of 2013.

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Entering the final round of the Tour Championship, Woods leads by three strokes over a world-class group of chasers. After close calls in Tampa and at Bay Hill, during The Open and PGA Championship, this might finally be the one that results in that elusive title.

It’s incredible.

It’s amazing.

It’s a Hollywood script come to life.

This was never supposed to happen again — and it was certainly never supposed to happen again this quickly.

One year ago this week, as Woods was still being cautious following a fourth back surgery, he explained, “My timetable is based on what my surgeon said. As I alluded to last week, I’m hitting 60-yard shots [but] I’m hitting it really straight.”

That last part was a joke, the game’s most dominant player of all-time with a little self-deprecating humor.

Not so hidden in that humor, though, was plenty of sadness. For him, sure, even though he put on a strong front.

But also for the rest of us, those resigned to the fact that we’d never again witness that familiar figure, draped in Sunday red and stalking the top of a leaderboard.

And now … here we are. In one year, from joking about straight 60-yard shots to potentially winning the season-ending tourney.

If it doesn’t happen, if Tiger falters or someone else just chases him down from behind, he’s at least proven that he can win again. He’s shown that the impossibility of that idea is now an inevitability.

If it does happen, well, he’s proven all of us realists wrong.

Anyone who listened to Woods and smartly surmised that he was too injured, too old, too battered to ever reach this pinnacle once again will have to admit they whiffed on this one.

I’ll be at the front of that line, in full mea culpa mode.

Others should be, too.

Especially those who still didn’t think he could win again, even after Tampa and Bay Hill and The Open and the PGA Championship.

Yes, they’re out there. No, they never changed those opinions, even when he continually told us he feels stronger and pain-free and is making progress with his game.

Woods has always enjoyed silencing the doubters. There were more of them in this latest iteration of a comeback than ever before.

If he does win, it’ll be extra sweet for a lot of reasons — but that will surely be one of them.