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I want Tiger back – and his game, too

I miss Tiger Woods, the real Tiger Woods, the one who dazzled us with his miraculous shots, the one who held all four major championships at one time, the one who won majors by astounding margins, the one who played 72 holes at St. Andrews and was never in a bunker, the one who could move the earth, the one who could fly, the one who was fire, the one who was ice.

I want him back because I want to see more of the golf he gave us, golf so powerful and precise and intelligent that nobody in the world came close to matching it. We who love the game are privileged to live at a time when we can see this.

I also want him back because I don’t like seeing him as he has been since he came back from his layoff. He seems fragile, wounded, and there is no explaining where his golf game has gone except to say that he has an awful lot on his mind. You can get preachy and say he brought it on himself, which he did with his infidelity, but you’d be a little late with that, one in a chorus of millions. What he did was stupid and heartless. He will live with it for the rest of his life.

All of that has been driven home to him and to anyone else who will listen. Over and over. The way so many piled on him suggests that some were pleased to see him brought down, to see the player they called “arrogant” and who was criticized because he banged a club on the ground, cursed and didn’t smile a lot on the course get his comeuppance.

So he’s not a Phil Mickelson. Couldn’t be. Shouldn’t be. He’d have to fake it. It’s not his nature. Nobody is more focused on the course. It’s one big reason he’s won so many championships.

I’ve never had a problem with his demeanor or his behavior, except for some of his language that was picked up by television. (Wouldn’t it make sense for TV to shut off that on-course microphone a moment after he hits?)

Woods has spent his career looking neither left nor right, focusing on the task at hand. If he didn’t give a big smile and a wave to everyone, instead just raising his hand or touching his hat in appreciation of the applause, he did give you golf that made you shout and shots that you won’t forget.

More shots that you won’t forget than any ten other guys.

In the few tournaments he’s played since coming back, the galleries have been kind to him, which speaks well of golf fans. But he’s fought his driver and his putter and as far as we know, since splitting with Hank Haney, he doesn’t have a swing coach.

Tiger knows the golf swing but he needs a mirror, someone to tell him what he’s doing right and wrong. Everybody does.

So, I don’t expect much of him in the US Open at Pebble Beach this week. The old Tiger could handle that course and that pressure but it may be awhile yet before he shows up. Then again, it’s the US Open and it’s Pebble Beach. Maybe

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