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Society

Tiger Woods. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The Ryder Cup is finally here! And if you were not excited before, Tiger Woods’ victory at East Lake during the Tour Championship and the behaviour of fans at the 72nd hole hopefully got your fired up.

Golf Digest, the sports’ leading publication, described the scenes on the 18th fairway on Sunday as being “on steroids”. The Golf Channel described the scenes as ‘incredible” and Teryn Gregson, who contributes for the PGA Tour, said the scenes were “nothing anyone had prepared for. We were all silent, none of us could form the words to express what we saw.”

Gregson went on: “Tiger parted the sea of fans, the fans were attracted to him like a magnet, wanting to get as close as they could to greatness.

“It was like a movie and you couldn’t help but realise you were in the middle of the greatest comeback story of all time. Win number 80.” SkySports described Woods’ victory as “spectacular for the game of golf.” Sksports added that the game of golf truly won. “You couldn’t have scripted it any better and you see how much it meant to him.” CBS Sports described the crowds swarming Woods as “absolutely insane!”

Rory McIlroy, who was playing with Woods during that historic final round, ran away ahead of the massive crowd but Woods held his ground, shielded by a handful of guards. Commenting after his victory, Woods said, “I just didn’t want to get run over.”

Golf News Net said Woods doesn’t just move the ‘needle’, he is the needle! The PGA Tour’s TV ratings for the Tour Championship were the highest ever with an audience of 7.8 million viewers, about eight per cent of these streaming the event on mobile or other devices. This numbers were 212 per cent higher than the 2017 numbers.

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Woods’ victory at the Tour Championship was his first in five years; his last victory was the 2013 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. He has now won this event a record three times and is now ranked 13th on the Official World Golf Ranking, his best rank since September 2014.

Woods has now won an amazing 80 times on the PGA Tour, just two shy of Sam Snead’s all time record.

The various statistics as posted by Woods are simply breathe taking; he has now banked $76.45 million (Sh7.8 billion) in his career, won the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational a record eight times each, won 18 World Golf Championships — Dustin Johnson is next on that list with only five wins and Phil Mickelson and Geoff Ogilvy are joint third with three wins each.

Woods was victorious 46 times in his 20s and in 2000 he won the US Open with a 12 stroke margin.

The only record that probably matters to Woods is most wins in men’s professional majors; Woods has 14 victories, just four short of Jack Nicklaus.

Earlier in the year, bookmakers had Woods as a 100-1 long shot to win the 2018 Masters, Oddsmaker projects Woods to open at 3-1 to win a major in 2019.

Tomorrow Woods — playing for Team USA — will tee it up at the Ryder Cup in Paris for the morning fourballs and afternoon foursomes against Team Europe. The cup is named after Englishman Samuel Ryder who donated a gold trophy in 1927 for the biennial men’s golf contest held alternatively between courses in the US and Europe.

The atmosphere in Paris will be extra charged and the first tee is fitted with an amphitheatre grandstand with a capacity of over 7,000 fans.

This large number of charged and noisy fans will fray nerves on that first tee and the presence of players like Woods, Ian Poulter and Patrick Reed will only add to the atmosphere and drama. I am looking forward to watching the Ryder Cup this weekend, and like millions of fans around the world, my eyes will be on Woods and the fans following him around Le Golf National in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, Paris, France.



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