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Is Tiger Back? Yes and No.

Mar 27, 2013 -- 12:50pm

 

Is Tiger back? I hear that question a lot these days.

My first response is to ask another question: Back to what?

Is Tiger Woods back to being the best golfer on the planet? Absolutely.

Is Tiger back to being the Tiger who once owned all four major championships at the same time? Absolutely not.

Tiger, now 37, will never be the same player he was from 1999 through 2004. I can’t imagine anyone ever playing at that level again. No one had before. Not Bobby Jones when he won what was called the Grand Slam in 1927; not Byron Nelson when he won an incredible 11 straight tournaments in 1945; not Ben Hogan when he won three majors in 1953; not Jack Nicklaus in the 1960s; not Arnold Palmer when he won seven majors from the ’58 Masters through the ’64 Masters.

Tiger did the unimaginable for five years. To expect him to regain that magic would have been like expecting Wilt Chamberlain to score 100 points again or Don Larsen to pitch another World Series perfect game. It would be like thinking Muhammad Ali would never age or Michael Jordan would never miss a crucial shot.

Is Tiger back? Not by the standard he set for himself, but by every other standard the answer is you’re damn right he is.

*****

Florida Gulf Coast’s first weekend of play ever in the NCAA basketball tournament surely will have a positive impact on the lowly Atlantic Sun Conference. The same can’t be said of the impact it will have on the conference’s other coaches.

In two years at the Fort Myers school Coach Andy Enfield already has led his program to unmatched heights in the A-Sun’s lackluster history. You can only imagine what presidents and athletic directors at the conference’s other schools must be thinking: If Enfield and FGCU can do it, why can’t we?

There’s already heat on JU’s Cliff Warren, who in 8 years has become the school’s winningest coach but has seen is program backslide. Matthew Driscoll has made improvements at UNF in his four years, but nothing approaching what Enfield and the Eagles have accomplished so quickly.

Some top recruits may now look at A-Sun schools differently now. The bar has been raised. Warren, Driscoll and other A-Sun coaches will now be judged by a different standard.

And if the Eagles somehow defeat the Gators in their Sweet 16 match, the bar will go even higher, particularly for A-Sun coaches in the Sunshine State.

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