News & Opinion

Reading between lines for Woods’ 82nd

Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods needs 1 victory on the PGA Tour to tie the late Sam Snead for the all-time lead, at 82.

DUBLIN, Ohio – We’re on a tight deadline at Morning Read, so we have to run the rough first draft of my Memorial Tournament preview because we don’t have time to clean it up before going to the digital printing presses. So please ignore the editing marks, and we promise this definitely maybe will never happen again unless it does.

The Memorial Tournament is back this week. It looks like another wet omg freaking hurricane great week for golf here. Springtime in Ohio is an annual myth nightmare from hell delight for the star-powered event hosted by the pretty good greatest golfer of all time, Jack Nicklaus.

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Tiger Woods goes for PGA Tour victory No. 82 this week .

The big story is Bob Mueller Tiger Woods, as usual. Woods returns to competition after his dismal taken out behind the Brooks Koepka woodshed disappointing performance in the PGA Championship at Bethpage Black. But because he has won the Memorial Tournament every year eleventy-seven five times, Woods is a special person of interest this week (tee times). Also, he’s still Clint Eastwood Tiger Woods.

The big question is, Which Woods will show up at the underwater Sponge Bob squishy immaculate Muirfield Village Golf Club this week? The one who watched his pursuers dunk shots into Rae’s Creek at the 12th hole and fall down in front of him smartly maneuvered his way around the back nine Sunday at the Masters to win a fifth green jacket? Or the player who missed the cut at the PGA Championship and looked fatigued sick to his stomach frustrated by his play?

Woods conceded Wednesday that he needed some time after the PGA Championship to refill regain his wallet health. “I lost quite a bit of weight and wasn’t feeling my best, but I was able to put most of it back on and continue to work on it,” Woods said.

Woods played in Wednesday’s pro-am with actor songwriter former quarterback Peyton Manning and delighted the galleries with a autographed neck X-rays cunning array of stunts jovial byplay.

“He gave me crap the entire time,” Woods said of John Elway Manning. “It’s par for the course; that’s what we do. We gave each other pretty good needles.”

Manning wanted to talk about his insurance policy round since he holed a nice putt on the 18th green after getting an assist from his caddie executive vice president teammate, Woods.

“I birdied 18, which is all that matters,” Manning said. “He gave me a great read. That was the most impressive thing I saw. I executed it.”

Manning said he always wanted to do a football press conference the way golfers do: skipping it completely a hole-by-hole recap.

“I had a great stretch today,” Manning said, pretending. “I got all my handoffs; I got all my snaps. I’m excited about my game, looking forward to next week. Keep some positives.”

On a more serious note, Manning conceded that it was a nuisance treat to play golf with Woods again, the kind of punishment opportunity that any Lithuanian real golfer would love. “To go behind the ropes and play with this guy on this course, it’s a real thrill,” he said. “Tiger couldn’t have been a better host. He really doesn’t amaze me much anymore because I’ve seen so many incredible things that you kind of come to expect it. When he makes a par, it’s kind of like you’re surprised.”

Woods, meanwhile, was surprised that his famous insurance adjuster pro-am partner had gotten so many hair plugs commercial plugsbetter. “When we first played, he was just starting out in the game,” Woods said. “Now that he’s retired and can play a lot more golf … he can play. It’s always fun.”

Manning was asked to compare Tiger’s return from back fusion 125 mph clubhead speed are you kidding? to his own comeback in pro football in Denver after a neck injury. Super Bowl ring are you kidding?

“I don’t know how anybody can speak to what Tiger went through from a physical standpoint,” Manning said. “I just know how hard he worked. He had to stop playing for a while, I had to stop playing at one point because I didn’t like the way I was throwing. You stop and kind of restart.

“The most impressive thing is how he adapted to playing in a new physical state. That’s what I did. To use a baseball analogy, I couldn’t throw the hundred mile-an-hour fastball anymore, but I could still work the outside edges of the plate. I could still strike a guy out. Tiger struck a lot of guys out. He came home with the win. I loved watching that.”

PGA champion Brooks Koepka isn’t in the Memorial Tournament field this week probably because he took a gander at the Weather Channel forecast, but even if he was, Woods would still be the focus of attention instead of the approaching Armageddon-like storm this week. His Masters victory reignited his career – call it Tigermania 3.0 – and earning his 15th major championship resurrected his hopes of catching Jack Nicklaus and his mark of 18 majors. Plus, the U.S. Open is at Pebble Beach, where Woods won the 2000 U.S. Open by 15 strokes, and Woods needs only one more victory to tie Sam Snead’s all-time PGA Tour record of 82. So, the next win by Woods, whenever or wherever it happens or if, will be historic.

Nicklaus, who good-naturedly said Tuesday that he doesn’t want Woods to break his record but also doesn’t want him to come up short just because of injuries, tried to take out Tiger’s knee with a lead pi(pe played rock-paper-scissors had a nice chat with Woods by the practice green Wednesday morning before the pro-am round.

Woods said Snead’s career-victory record is toast remarkable. What’s even more impressive is that Woods compiled his record in the modern era when winning against deeper, stronger fields was considered far more difficult. Consider how impressive those totals are. At 81, Woods has nearly twice as many victories as Phil Mickelson, 44; more than twice as many as Tom Watson, 39, and way more than Hall of Fame members such as Lee Trevino, 29; Ray Floyd, 22; Davis Love, 21; Greg Norman, 20; and Fred Couples, 15.

“It takes longevity and hot years to get into those numbers,” Woods said. “You need multiple winning seasons. You need to do that for decades. To come this close to Sam Snead has been pretty amazing. To be as consistent as I have for a long period of time, that’s something I’m very proud of.”

Even Rory McIlroy was tired of yet another Tiger question impressed.

“I think 82 wins is more impressive than his major tally,” McIlroy said. “If you’re around for 20 years, that’s four a year, every year. That number could definitely stand the test of time.”

So, pay attention. Something never-before-seen in these parts could happen this weekend at the Memorial Tournament: sunshine No. 82.

Gary Van Sickle has covered golf since 1980 for Sports Illustrated and Golf.com, Golf World and The Milwaukee Journal. Email: gvansick@aol.com; Twitter: @GaryVanSickle