One Round Doesn't Mean Tiger's Back
Elin didn't get full custody of his golf ability.
Woods shot a 65 at The Barclays, just three days after his divorce was finalized in Florida. And I know what you're thinking.
Not so fast, Tiger fans. Your man will be back, but Elin's ex-man hasn't suddenly been transformed by a dissolution document. If that's all it took to succeed, John Daly would have won 30 majors by now.
All Thursday's round did was confirm that Woods' massive reservoir of ability is still there. But golf and mental rehab are too complex to declare that Tiger's been cured of all that's been ailing him.
We've had these false alarms before. Remember the third round at the U.S. Open? He shot a 31 on the back nine, capping it with a bombs-away approach shot on the final hole that had the gallery screaming.
The next day – pffffttt.
There have been too many days like that. It was only a dozen or so days ago that Woods left the PGA Championship with his head in the usual 2010 haze. He opened with a 67, then he went 73-73-72.
The other number we heard recently from Tiger was $750,000,000. The London Sun insists that's what Elin got in the settlement. Other reports put it closer to $100 million. Whatever the case, Tiger is definitely a lot lighter in the wallet.
But lighter in the heart?
Tiger's 65 on Thursday was indeed the best round since he set fire to his personal life last Thanksgiving. But if being freshly divorced meant instant success, Michael Jordan would have led the Washington Wizards to the NBA title.
The Gabor sisters would have 18 Academy Awards between them. Heck, Jon Gosselin would have married Elin Nordegren-Woods, and she wouldn't have forced him to sign a pre-nup.
Only Tiger and his sexual-addiction counselors know for sure how deep a funk he's been in, but it's hard to imagine suddenly being single has a direct correlation to hitting fairways.
He actually hit 13 of 14 on Thursday, which is about 12 more than he'd hit since the Masters. Naturally, he was asked whether getting the divorce over with had cleared his head and allowed him to swing easier.
"I can't really say that's the case," Woods said.
He ought to know. There have just been too many kinks in his game, from driving to putting to pretending he likes interacting with fans.
Remember that kinder, gentler Tiger during the practice rounds at the Masters? It wasn't long until he hit a bad shot and the old "You suck, God damnit!" returned. Woods still finished fourth, and it seemed only a matter of time until the No. 1 player in the world would be back on the throne full-time.
Six months later, we're still waiting.
There's no doubt he feels some relief after Monday's court proceeding. But what we need to accept is that Tiger's road back will be three steps forward, two steps back, one sideways. That's frustrating since golf needs him, TMZ needs him, sportswriters need him, Rachel Uchitel needs him.
"I feel horrible for him. He loved her," Tiger's prime mistress said after the divorce news broke. "He loved her, but he was in love with me. I hope he remembers that was real, and he reaches out to me."
I hope he doesn't. The only relationship I'd like to see Tiger have right now is with a good swing coach. Then again, he was the undisputed No. 1 when he was juggling Uchitel and a cast of dozens.
There's a happy balance in there somewhere, and Woods will eventually find it. His life will eventually regain a new normalcy, and his game will eventually regain its old normalcy. It's simply not normal, however, to have all your problems whisked away by a judge's signature.
Then again, there's never been much normal about Tiger Woods. So if he wins this week, I'll eat these words.
It'll be worth it if Elin and Jon Gosselin show up to congratulate him.