Woods not ready to ride into sunset yet

When all has been said and done, when all the criticism and advice and cheap shots and crackpot theories have rolled over his head, where do we find Tiger Woods? Back as No 1 in the world rankings, a 42nd PGA title under his belt, and buoyed as a clutch winner over America's leading golf heart-throb, Phil Mickelson.

When all has been said and done, when all the criticism and advice and cheap shots and crackpot theories have rolled over his head, where do we find Tiger Woods? Back as No 1 in the world rankings, a 42nd PGA title under his belt, and buoyed as a clutch winner over America's leading golf heart-throb, Phil Mickelson.

Woods may not be everybody's cup of tea or dry martini. He is not universally popular, certainly, in country club America. Arrogant, petulant, even uppity, it has been said. Conversely, for a few years now a considerable part of Black America has suggested he is something of an Uncle Tom.

However, in his greatest victory, his first astonishing triumph in Augusta eight years ago, to his most dispiriting defeats, also in the Masters, this witness has never seen him less than courteous in dealing with even the most banal of questions. He has kept playing under enormous pressure.

In his moment of defeat at the weekend Mickelson's face was a picture of dawning horror. It reminded you a bit of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid when they looked from the top of the bluff and saw that an extraordinary posse was still on their trail. "Who are these guys?" they asked in dismay and befuddlement.

Golf, which for several years now has been talking about the decline of Woods to mere mortal status, is entitled to mimic the question. "Who is this guy?"

The answer is, still quite probably, the greatest golfer who ever lived. With the Masters just a month away, that possibility is as thrilling as ever.

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