Sunday Times

Tiger’s tale is one that’s al­most im­pos­si­ble to re­sist

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● There is noth­ing like the Ry­der Cup. Not in golf. Not in all of sport. They say imi­ta­tion is the best form of flat­tery and if that is true the Ry­der Cup can be very proud be­cause so many other sports have tried to copy it.

But they have all failed even to ap­proach the pas­sion and in­ter­est pro­duced by this match. Europe does not come to­gether like this in any other con­text. It is the only com­pe­ti­tion that pits one side of the At­lantic against the other.

When Jack Nick­laus sug­gested in the 70s that Great Bri­tain and Ire­land team be ex­panded to take in the con­ti­nent just so Amer­ica could be given a proper match, he could not have imag­ined what it would be­come.

It tran­scends the game, it crosses the bound­aries. Every foot­baller will watch, every crick­eter, every rugby player. It is the ul­ti­mate shop win­dow for golf in the world.

But, this year, there’s one ma­jor rea­son why there’ll be more peo­ple tun­ing into the Ry­der Cup — Tiger Woods, fol­low­ing his first PGA tour win in five years.

There were chil­dren lin­ing the fair­ways at East Lake Golf Club who hadn't been born the last time it was like this, men whose beards had grown grey and young adults with only faint mem­o­ries of what it felt like to watch the great­est sports phe­nom­e­non of their life­time in his prime.

And as Woods crushed his tee shot down the 18th fair­way last Sun­day, all of them had had enough. Enough of be­ing told to be quiet, enough of be­ing con­strained by ropes and golf eti­quette. This is the South [the south­ern states of Amer­ica], af­ter all, where it’s prac­ti­cally ex­pected to rush onto the field fol­low­ing the big­gest wins.

Sea of hu­man­ity

Even Woods was caught be­tween smil­ing as he looked back and stay­ing in the mo­ment as a sea of hu­man­ity flooded the fair­way be­hind him. Just like the field be­hind Woods this week, the se­cu­rity guards had no chance. As thou­sands of peo­ple drew closer, all of them chant­ing “Tiger! Tiger!” one of At­lanta’s elite golf clubs had sud­denly turned into a scene straight out of a soc­cer game.

But who cares about deco­rum when Woods had just won his first tour­na­ment in five years?

“This was dif­fer­ent,” Woods said, ac­knowl­edg­ing that the scene on the fi­nal hole was un­like any­thing he ex­pe­ri­enced in his pre­vi­ous 79 ca­reer vic­to­ries. “I guess it’s dif­fer­ent now be­cause the art of clap­ping is gone. You can’t clap with a cell­phone in your hand, so peo­ple yell.”

It may be the best de­scrip­tion yet for why Woods’ come­back is un­like any­thing we’ve ever seen, and why the emo­tion fol­low­ing him at every tour­na­ment this sum­mer has been so in­tense.

In sports we are used to eras end­ing, le­gends fad­ing and pass­ing the best parts of those mem­o­ries down to the next gen­er­a­tion while lament­ing they never got to see that kind of greatness for them­selves.

It doesn’t ac­tu­ally mat­ter whether he helps win the Ry­der Cup for the US in Paris this week, or does go on to win an­other ma­jor, al­though he is as short as 8-1 with some book­mak­ers for next April’s Mas­ters.

This is less about a tour­na­ment vic­tory than what Woods won in try­ing to get back: a sense of who he is and how the world feels about him, a sense of a past that is not nec­es­sar­ily a for­eign land.

The Ry­der Cup tran­scends the game, it crosses the bound­aries. Every foot­baller watches, every crick­eter, every rugby player. It is the ul­ti­mate shop win­dow for golf in the world

 ?? Pic­ture: Getty Im­ages ?? As Tiger Woods made the walk to the 18th green to seal his first tro­phy since 2013 , the 42-year-old was fol­lowed by an in­cred­i­ble sea of fans.
Pic­ture: Getty Im­ages As Tiger Woods made the walk to the 18th green to seal his first tro­phy since 2013 , the 42-year-old was fol­lowed by an in­cred­i­ble sea of fans.

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