Triumph! Where it all began…….

In my best, calming, Jim Nantz voice I say to you “Hello friends.” No, I am not writing to you from inside Butler Cabin, but I am on cloud 9. I practically floated to work this morning with the greatest of ease, listening to all of the joyous commentary on satellite radio. Yesterday at 4:45 pm the phone rang at the store. On the other end was a gentleman asking if we had the new Nike Tiger Woods hats in stock. I told him they just came in on Friday and we had it in 3 colors. Excitedly he asked what time we closed. I responded 5:00. He said I’m on my way! Ten minutes later the phone rang again and it was that same man, this time explaining that he was on his way but he was afraid he would arrive a few minutes after we closed. Being in an obvious incredible mood, I assured him we would wait for him and not to worry. He thanks me and said he would be in a blue truck. At 5:03 that blue truck pulled in and out jumped that gentleman along with a little girl. It was his 9 year old daughter, and as it turns out, it was her idea to rush out and buy a black Tiger hat after spending all day watching the Masters with her daddy on TV. She was so excited and she convinced her dad to buy a matching one. They told me they watched every shot over the weekend and they will never forget that experience they shared together. This is the Tiger affect. This is one of a thousand reasons why yesterday was so much more than a 43 year old guy winning a golf tournament.

The goose bumps couldn’t have been any bigger, the hair on your neck couldn’t have stood any taller, and the tears couldn’t have been more plentiful. I wrote on my facebook page last week before the start of the Masters, that we would never forget where we were and who we were with while we witnessed incredible Masters’ moments; like when Jack came back in ’86 to become the oldest and most improbable winner of the green jacket. Well I think the title of most improbable winner belongs to a new gentleman.

But how can Tiger Woods, a man with 4 green jackets already to his name, a man with 14 majors to his credit, a man who dominated the sports landscape for over a decade…………be labeled as improbable? Improbability lies where something is unexpected or unlikely to happen. There are many people, fans, peers, and critics, who thought the day would never come. Tiger happily silenced the doubters of whether he’d even win again at the Tour Championship last fall. But on Sunday, not only did he slam the door in the face of anyone who snickered at the chance he’d win another major…..he opened the door to everyone that now thinks he can win a few more. I argued that Tiger would win another major till I was blue in the face. But deep down I don’t think I was ever so sure. Tiger Woods was the highest of all highs right there in front of us for a long time. He also hit the lowest of all lows.

In 1997 he stuffed an Augusta National duffle bag full of records and he lugged it around for 72 holes until he embraced his dad behind the 18th hole in what became the most iconic, noticeable moments in all or sports. 22 years later he was the father hugging his kids in that same spot; hugging his mom who has been there every step of the way; hugging his girlfriend and his agent. He let out a few roars himself as he, with family in tow, walked through the frantic sea of humanity to the scoring area. We have all grown to love Tiger’s toothy grin over the years. But this smile meant something different. It was broader. This smile was shared by millions. It was shared by his fellow competitor peers who waited to greet him with congratulatory hugs. That wasn’t something that happened very often in Tiger’s heyday. But this new group of golf phenoms is pretty tight. They are the ones that grew up idolizing Tiger, with his posters on their walls, the swoosh on their hats, and his video games in their consoles. They have all dreamt of the chance to only be paired with Tiger, but to have their chance at him when it counts; Sunday at a major. Be careful what you wish for. It took a little longer to awake this Tiger from his den this time. But he’s awake. And he’s hungrier than ever. Tiger’s greatest attribute has always been his mental toughness. I can’t imagine the physical fortitude and mental belief it took for him to get back to this level. So many naysayers, so many surgeries, a lot of negativity, and a whole lot of doubt.

This Tiger has had 4 knee surgeries and 3 on his back. This Tiger chews gum on the course. He high fives the gallery. He signs a few more autographs. He goes to soccer games. This Tiger smiles more. This Tiger answers reporters’ questions less robotic and more from the heart, from the gut. I liked the old Tiger. I love the new one. I think a lot of people do too. I know the game of golf does.

So good news! We can break out everyone’s favorite water-cooler, barber shop, and sports talk show debate……will Tiger catch or pass Jack Nicklaus’ record 18 majors? 3 seems so much closer than 4. The next one is the PGA which has now moved to May. It is being played at Bethpage Black, site of Tiger’s 2002 US Open win. In June we head to Pebble Beach, the site of the US Open, where Tiger won by 15 strokes in 2000. Do you see where I’m going here? I know it’s farfetched and over-the-top to even think he could win a couple more this year, but that’s Tiger. He heightens our imaginations and spoils us rotten with his never-before-seen talent. He also gets 9 year old girls to drag daddy to the golf store to buy a hat at closing time.

What’s in the Bag of Tiger Woods?

Tiger has an incredible amount of personal input when it comes to his equipment. He has had that arrangement with every brand he has represented since he said “Hello world” in 1996. His irons, the Taylormade P-7TW, have just released to the public, but they’re not for everyone. The forged blade design was customized to look and feel just like the past models Tiger has played throughout his career. Same with the golf ball. Tiger is notorious for playing of the highest spinning balls on the market, and his Bridgestone Tour B XS is no exception. We all know how famous Tiger has made the 2 iron over the years, but he swaps it with a 5 wood here and there depending on course conditions and setup. His M5 fairway woods and driver all contain the same graphite shaft by Mitsubishi; the Diamana D+ TX. Only difference is the fairway wood shafts are 10 grams heavier, which is the norm. The Diamana D+ is the newest version of a popular shaft Tiger used to play, the Diamana White Board. This shaft has a stiffer tip and features a more penetrating ball flight with lower spin. Tiger finds success with this lower spinning shaft because the ball he plays is such high spinning. His putter needs no introduction. The Scotty Cameron Newport 2 has now been on board for 14 of his 15 major championships.

DRIVER: TaylorMade M5 (9 degrees), with Mitsubishi Diamana D+ 60 TX shaft

FAIRWAY WOODS: TaylorMade M5 (13 degrees) and TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Mitsubishi Diamana D+ 70 TX shafts

IRONS: TaylorMade P-7TW (3-PW), with True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100 shafts

WEDGES: TaylorMade Milled Grind (56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400 shafts

PUTTER: Scotty Cameron Newport 2 GSS

BALL: Bridgestone Tour B XS

Enjoy the game, and each other-

Written by Seth Zipay and Published by Craig Walton – GolfHQ.com