Tiger Hits the Crossbar as Casey Bags Valspar Championship
The win was not secured, but Tiger Woods came as close as possible without actually doing so with a second-placed finish behind Paul Casey at the Valspar Championship.
The sight of the 14-time major champion, decked in Sunday afternoon red, contending at the top a leaderboard is a sight to warm the hearts of golf’s money men – as well as his legion of fans.
He wasn’t able to seal the deal, admitting after the final round that his iron game was a little off, but the signs are clear that there is life in Tiger Woods at the elite level of the sport.
On a Copperhead course he had never previously played competitive golf on, it was expected that he would struggle – amid fears his long game would be troubled by the tight, tree-lined fairways. Woods dispelled that throughout the four rounds – as he mixed driver, three-wood and irons off the tee. On occasion it left him with long approaches to greens, but for the first three rounds his iron play was dialled in.
His distance control let him down on Sunday, resulting in too many long birdie putts – but he kept grinding away to remain in the hunt. A monster birdie putt on 17 left him with a shot at forcing a playoff, but his long effort on 18 tailed off to the right to ensure Casey secured his first win on the PGA Tour since 2009.
Woods’ barren run does no date that far back, his stretches to 2013, but there are clear signs that an 80th win on the PGA Tour is not far off.
”I keep getting just a little bit better and a little bit sharper,” Woods said, per the PGA Tour’s official website. “Today I wasn’t quite as sharp as I would’ve liked to have had it, but I had a good shot at winning the golf tournament.
“A couple of putts here and there and it could’ve been a different story.”
There were six players ahead of Woods in the betting prior to the start of the Valspar Championship; it will be interesting to see how the market is framed at the Arnold Palmer Invitational this week.
It’s not a stretch to say Woods has a love affair with event, as he has won it on eight previous occasions and he is a man to be feared at Bay Hill.
With confidence in his body returning, his game steadily shedding rust and on a track he knows so well, it would be a brave person to take Tiger on.