The Tiger of old: Is a 15th major around the corner?

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When Tiger Woods was strutting around the greens of Carnoustie on Sunday night, it brought the sporting world back to happier times.

It’s been some time since Tiger, donning his traditional Sunday red-and-black, has been in contention on the final day of a major. To see him leading the pack at The Open Championship gave sports fans a well-prescribed injection of nostalgia. And while he couldn’t pull off the win (with Italian Francesco Molinari saluting at eight-under), his presence at the business end was enough to send golf fans giddy.

Tiger’s final round charges, for many, are linked with times when society displayed some sort of order. When the world’s worst global leader was George W Bush, when our most difficult decisions took place in Video Ezy, and when Richmond were a bang-average football club. No longer is this the case, and chaos has ensued. We’ve needed a leveller, someone to tell us that all isn’t lost from a bygone era. And while he’s taken his time, the hero we don’t deserve is back with a bang.

His sixth-place finish is his best result at a major since 2013. In leading at Carnoustie, it was the first time since 2009 he has held the outright lead on a Sunday in a major. The elusive 15th major has proven a bridge too far for one of the world’s greatest ever golfers for 10 years now. His last victory came in the 2008 US Open in an 18-hole playoff win against Rocco Mediate. What followed in the years after is well-reported: a string of ‘relationships’, back injuries, reports of a reclusive lifestyle, etc. For now, however, it appears things could be back on track.

For many growing up in the Tiger era of dominance (1997-2009), he was the sport. His opponents were mere pawns strategically placed for him to swat away. At the time, there was (genuine) commentary about the potential negative impact he had on the sport, because of how good he was.. His presence gave fleeting fans a reason to stay glued to the screen, and a generation of kids to use their pocket-money on EA games bearing his name.

Now that he’s back, those same fleeting fans may turn on their screens again. But will his new-found form translate to what the golfing world wants – a 15th major win? He’s currently listed at $17 for the upcoming USPGA Championship, starting August 9. It’s an event he’s won four times, and if the flood of goodwill flowing his way can be converted to on-course form, he’s in with a huge chance.

Some sceptics care little for his return to the world’s top-50 and the genuine possibility that he could notch that vaunted 15th major. Those same sceptics also have a gaping big hole in their soul. It’s time to jump aboard a Tiger train we can all get behind.

Oh, and if his wind-back-the-clock performance on the weekend didn’t warm the heart quite enough, check out these snaps of Molinari acting as caddy (against Tiger) at Augusta in 2006. Bravo, Francesco.

What do you think?