Tiger is a True Pro

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Tiger was in full swing yesterday, pun was indeed intended. This was one of Woods’ more impressive performances. It wouldn’t have been much of a shock to anyone had he not played well here.

I mean, he doesn’t like the course, a fact reflected in his modest finishes at The Players. The point is look at the big picture, Woods has already proven he can win again. Tiger has three wins on the PGA Tour already, six since March of last year. Tiger reclaimed the No. 1 spot in the rankings and iss coming off a three-week post-Masters break.

It was a warm afternoon on Florida’s First Coast where Woods was at his most professional in shooting a 5-under-par round of 67. Perfecto.

“He came here with a game plan, and that is what you’ve got to do when you play a Pete Dye golf course,” said six-time major champion-turned-television analyst Nick Faldo.

“You can’t get fancy. He’s played beautifully. I’m really impressed that Tiger can take three weeks off and not look rusty.”

Also lurking is Rory McIlroy, the world No. 2 who’s slowly awakening.

After a horrific start to the season, McIlroy was at his sharpest on Thursday. He shot a 6-under 66; impressive since he’d never turned in a single round under par at TPC Sawgrass. Or made a cut.

Tiger a lot of motivation to win this game, especially with his new found girlfriend rooting him on.

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Tiger at the Masters

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It’s impossible to overstate the importance of the first tee shot at the Masters on Tiger Woods psyche.

“I promise you he has been thinking about that tee shot since he got to Augusta National,” said John Cook, a close friend of Woods’.

“He has had trouble with that first tee shot.”

Last year, Woods hit a snap hook off that tee, then another on the second hole, and his body language said his Masters run was already over. He never recovered, going home in a tie for 40th, his worst ever finish at the year’s first major.

So despite the three wins this season and the fact that he’s regained the No. 1 world ranking and came to Augusta as the favorite, there was an overcast Thursday as Woods stepped to the tee. Now I don’t want to hear, oh he was using some new clubs, that doesn’t matter. Golfers love using new clubs, they’re not hard to get used to. The real trouble is using a new golf ball, but that may or may not be the issue with how Tigers game went.

Woods selected not his driver on the long, uphill par 4, but a new 3 wood that he’d just put in his bag. The choice paid off, no surprise as I said a lame excuse for people to use, as he smoked one down the middle, clipping Luke Donald’s driver by at least 25 yards. Scott Piercy, one of the longer hitters in the game, was perhaps only 20 yards beyond Woods. From there, Woods hit a short iron about 15 feet beneath the hole. His putting has been spot on this year which is critical given that putting is what has kept him from winning at Augusta since 2005. Sadly, Woods hit a tentative putt that never had a chance of falling.

It seemed like Tigers mind was starting to deflate. The awful second shot into the second wasn’t much better and that left him to scramble for a par 5 on what is really a birdie hole. He needed to recover on the third after bouncing his tee shot into a fan, causing him to spill his beer. Which is hilarious.

By the sixth, though, Woods stopped playing beer pong and started playing golf. His spirit almost seemed lifted by the great plays. He finished with a 2-under-par round of 70, which he’d later call “a good day, a solid day.”

My main issue with Tiger was the fact that ESPN did not air the Masters until 3:00 and Tiger was done by then. I didn’t even get to see Tiger play, depressing. Great scheduling there, fantastic. Anyone else upset they didn’t get to watch Tiger golf? Tiger you gotta pick up your game if you expect to win, you weren’t too great this round.

Best Athlete Owned Restaurants

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8-Twelve is the combined efforts of MVPs Aaron Rodgers, of the Green Bay Packers and Ryan Braun, of the Milwaukee Brewers, with their hopes of giving back to Wisconsin and its cherished fan base. 8-Twelve features a wood-fired grill imparting unique flavors to the chef’s creations. Prime cuts from Allen Brothers have never tempted your taste buds like this. Wine enthusiasts will appreciate a well-rounded wine list and beer drinkers will enjoy a large selection of Wisconsin-crafted brews. Practically all the ingrdiants come from Wisconsin, so all the food is fresh and great tasting.
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Many dishes at Joe Theismann’s sound pretty run-of-the-mill: wedge salad and seared ahi tuna for example. But you have to be doing something right to have the staying power this former Redskins’ quarterback’s restaurant does, since it opened more than 35 years ago. Of greatest interest perhaps is the steakhouse-cut pork chop with a “secret rub,” a longtime customer favorite.
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After a brief but amazing professional career as a running back for the Detroit Lions, Sims turned his attention to his other passion: barbecue. There are currently 30 locations of Billy Sims Barbecue throughout Oklahoma, Missouri, and Michigan with traditional barbecue favorites like pulled pork, brisket, and smoked chicken joined by regional specialties including Frito Chili Pie and smoked bologna. He also, of course, offers tailgate-friendly “super packs.”
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Even though he’s now trying to play in the NFL, quarterback Vince Young remains king in Austin for leading the University of Texas football team to the NCAA national championship in 2005. A few years ago he returned to his college stomping grounds to open his first restaurant downtown. The menu specializes in beef, from short rib chili to locally sourced Texas prime grade steaks and a rich Wagyu brisket burger balanced out by briny house-made pickles.
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An Australian grille in South Carolina? It might not be the first thing that comes to mind for the Southern states cuisine. I know it’s not what I think of. Set along the Intracoastal Waterway in the golfers paradise of North Myrtle Beach. From the open kitchen comes tuna sashimi crusted with sesame seeds served over a cucumber seaweed salad tossed in a plum vinaigrette, oven-roasted half duckling served with black pepper fettuccine and garnished with asparagus tips and a cherry ginger sauce, and slow-roasted 28 day-aged prime rib. The links legends signature chardonnays, rieslings, and cabernets round out the Wine Spectator Award for Excellence-recognized list of spirits.
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Yao Restaurant & Bar was good enough to be featured at number 19 on The Daily Meal’s list of 25 Best Celebrity-Owned Restaurants. Former Houston Rockets center Yao Ming and his wife joined with friends and local restaurant owners to create a large space serving Chinese and Chinese-American food. Lettuce wraps, Peking dumplings, Kung Pao beef, they have it all.
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In Denver, John Elway is a hero. The former Broncos quarterback did what few legends have done: won his second Super Bowl in 1999, retired on top, and then stayed retired, unlike Brett Favre whose restaurant is awful. His foray into fine dininghas been equally successful. He co-owns three eponymous restaurants, one in the Ritz-Carlton in downtown Denver, one in Denver’s Cherry Creek neighborhood, and a third in Vail, Colo. The steakhouse menu will please carnivores with a cavemans appetite, but skirt the standards to find the creative apps and sides, like lamb chops dipped in green chile fondue, crunchy calamari tossed with stuffed olives and cherry peppers, and truffled beet and mozzarella salad.

TigerMania!!!! Its B-A-A-A-C-K

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Private Jet – Check
Yacht – Check
New House – Check
#1 Golfer – Check
New Lady – Check
Another Green Jacket – soon to be check!

I am going to be straight and upfront.  I never once doubted the ability of Tiger Woods.  Never once.  I have seen friends and family go through a divorce, and after some time, they return.  At certain times, you see glimpses, they toggle back and forth of their real self and their alter ego they have developed as a divorcee.  But eventually it all gets ironed out in the wash.

Just when this puzzle of Tiger Woods seemed to be missing a few pieces, we roll over the couch cushions, and waalah!  The piece we have been missing.  Insert Lindsey Vonn.

TigerMania is Back.  I will not crown him yet as being fully back, but that next step can be conquered in just a few short weeks at Augusta National.  A “Tiger-Proofed” golf course.  If I am in the field, I am so content with second place.  Similar to an NCAA 2 seed versus 15 seed, the rest of the field needs to play their best, and needs Tiger to miss a few pieces of his.  And if there is one thing that fuels this guy, it is the fuel of taking words of the media, crumpling them, and jamming them right back into the pie-hole they came from.  The Tiger Nay-Sayers.

I am going to go on record.  With age, comes intelligence.  And Tiger, as he ages, is becoming smarter and wiser.  Tiger will win the 2013 Masters, he will leave little room for speculation, and after, will be hungrier than ever.  Put on your seatbelts and saddle up for the ride.  It’s gonna be wild.

And this time, the five iron won’t go smashing through the back window.