THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — Earl Woods could blow smoke with the best of them, yet it was always entertaining.
Such was the case years ago when he was raving about how Tiger Woods thoroughly enjoyed the biggest stage in golf, because his son knew he could perform under pressure. But if that were true, how did Woods butcher the final round of the Quad City Classic when he had a chance to win in his third start as a pro?
“It took me a while to figure out why he didn’t win,” Earl Woods said in 2003. “Then it dawned on me and I told my wife, ‘Tiger is going to win in Las Vegas.’ Because in his subconscious mind, he did not want to win his first tournament in some … place like Quad Cities.”
Woods ended the longest drought of his career at the Chevron World Challenge, and whether that was the ideal place for him to finally pose with a trophy again depends on the perspective.
In one respect, he came full circle at Sherwood Country Club.
This was the first tournament Woods skipped in the aftermath of Thanksgiving night 2009, when his personal life imploded. And it was at this tournament last year when he blew a four-shot lead and lost to Graeme McDowell in a playoff, a sign something wasn’t quite right with his game.
On Sunday, he looked like the Woods of old by making clutch birdie putts on the last two holes. Then again, there were only 17 players Woods had to beat at Sherwood.
Even though the Chevron World Challenge had 11 of the top 25 players in the world ranking, some of the easiest events to win have the smallest fields. And the field shrinks even more when free money is being offered ($140,000 for last place). It also could be argued that some players had one eye on the holidays.
Some will never be satisfied, though.
Woods could win his first tournament of 2012 in Abu Dhabi, and skeptics won’t think it matters until he wins on the PGA Tour. He could win at Pebble Beach, and some will say the only measure is the majors.
Here’s how to gauge Sunday: It was a significant win because it was significant to Woods.