Galleries falling silent as the Tiger roar fades
Tiger Woods' fall from grace has had one satisfying spin-off the extinction of the irritating sub-species “You-Da-Man”.
Its near-cousin, ‘In-De-Hole’, arose a couple of times as Woods stirred ghostly echoes of former glories with his closing 66 on The Blue Monster.
Yet ‘You-Da-Man’ plainly has gone the way of Tiger Mania.
So keenly does golf yearn for the return of its erstwhile prince from purgatory that last Sunday’s effort was seized upon with evangelical zeal.
Woods had barely signed the card which propelled him into his first top-10 finish on the PGA Tour since last June’s US Open when prophecies of a 15th Major Championship victory at next month’s US Masters began to fill the airways.
In the context of recent months, Tiger’s performance on Sunday was impressive.
Thomas Bjorn, paired with Woods in the final round at Doral, detected a marked improvement in his performance from last Month’s Accenture Match Play.
“I’ve a hunch Augusta is coming at a very good time for him,” said Bjorn. Perhaps but few of the several thousands who walked 18 holes on the dark side with Woods last Saturday would bet on it.
The loudest cheer on Saturday came when Mickelson pitched-in from a greenside bunker at seven, while Tiger’s finest moment arguably was at three, when he followed-up a dreadful, chunked chip by holing out from the fringe for par.
On the few occasions Woods found a fairway; managed to make a decent putt or produce anything remotely impressive, the applause was generous but reserved.
Even on Sunday, when a delighted Woods believed he “showed positive signs for the next time I play”, the crowd’s response was no more enthusiastic than that stirred by the impressive title-clinching efforts of his fellow American Nick Watney over the final few holes.
For Woods has become, in the words of Holywood ace Rory McIlroy, an “ordinary golfer”. The days when galleries wildly embraced him or feted his power and majesty with ‘The Tiger Roar’ are gone.
Eventually, he’ll win again, though it’d require a mini-miracle for Woods to find the required consistency with his ailing driver to chalk up a seventh career victory at Bay Hill next week or to claim a fifth Green Jacket at Augusta National next month.
Woods may one day win a record 19 Major title but, judging by the atmosphere among the galleries at Doral, he’s unlikely to stir the same warmth and affection as a Jack Nicklaus or Arnie Palmer.
Where Tiger is concerned, an age of innocence has ended.