Leonard Thomas: Tiger in Sunday red is menacing, again
After years of struggle, Tiger's latest ascent up a peak suggests he could stand alone as golf's ultimate player
The icy stare once again shreds nerves, and the twirl of irons is all at once balletic and purposeful, again.
The uniquely animal roars have returned to keep him company, raising delirium outside the ropes and sinking hearts within its confines, No. 15 has been mastered and that Major chase in golf has suddenly resumed.
Tiger Woods is cold, bloodthirsty and significant in Sunday red, again.
He is back and it is a beautiful thing because an epic comeback had seemed beyond him.
After that sordid fall from grace and descent into familial purgatory, after injury hell and more than 10 years coming up empty in the biggest contests, he is on top of the world, again.
He is not golf's world No. 1 again, but, maybe, his win at the Masters yesterday finally tipped the scales on the side of those who argue that he is the greatest player in history.
Even as he resumes his pursuit of Jack Nicklaus' all-time Major mark of 18 wins.
And even if his latest Masters triumph cannot be described as sport's greatest comeback.
There is Muhammad Ali stepping into the ring again for some of the most brutal boxing fights after a long and cruel ban, Nicki Lauda getting back into his Formula 1 car after a fiery brush with death, Monica Seles becoming world No. 1 in tennis again after being stabbed and Greg Lemond reaching cycling's mountain top after fighting for his life from a shotgun blast.
There are quite a few remarkable men and women who have conquered inner demons, defied doctors and Father Time and gone on to rule again in the grandest of sporting arenas.
Tiger himself has described Ben Hogan's comeback as the greatest of all, when he rose from his deathbed after a car accident to sit at golf's pinnacle, again.
Maybe it is enough for Tiger's re-ascent to be ranked amongst the greatest of them all.
There was a time he could barely walk, there was a chance he would not play again but, after four back surgeries, a fifth Green Jacket hangs in his cupboard.
There was a time he was a man cloaked in shame, a storybook marriage shattered after his many sexual trysts with women were exposed to the world.
Yesterday, that seemed like a long time ago when he secured his 15th Major and prompted beaming smiles and loving embraces with his young son and young daughter, mother and girlfriend.
I'm not a golfer, but I follow the game keenly, and Tiger, most of all, has made it grand.
He made history, smashed through a glass ceiling and played a game no one had seen before.
He drove the ball a mile, was a wizard with his irons and clutch at his short game armed with Borg's ice-veins.
And he dragged so many new fans with him.
Youngsters like McIlroy, Day, Koepka, Spieth, Fowler and Matsuyama, and the game, have cashed in after Tiger's exploits, the new crop all wanted to play like him.
A number of these princes were at one time or another crowned a successor in waiting; yesterday, they were hapless witnesses as a Master went to work.
Just like in the old days, some would have said.
Except it is not now, because Tiger has climbed a peak, again.
Italy's Francesco Molinari had taken him on at last year's British Open and was not intimidated, they said, because he won.
Playing alongside Tiger again, many felt he would not flinch yesterday, but he did, badly.
Brooks Koepka was not supposed to flinch yesterday after holding off a Tiger charge at the PGA Championship last year, but he did, as the 43-year-old came for him again.
Tony Finau was a contender, until he played with his idol in the final round yesterday and also flinched, unable to quell the magic of Tiger bedlam.
Tales of Nicklaus, Palmer and Ballesteros raise eyebrows, stories of golf Coliseums Augusta National, St Andrews and Pebble Beach stand hairs on end.
But, when talk is of Tiger stalking fairways and greens, when he swings irons and driver like rhyming guitars, and putts ice-cold, it is golf's most beautiful thing.
He has written his own story at Augusta's 16th, after that unforgettable putt in 2005 that saw his ball freeze in time for a split second at the cup before falling in to send him on his way to a fourth Green Jacket, and yesterday's 8-iron that landed so close to the flag we all could smell victory.
On May 16, he will tee off at Bethpage Black in pursuit of a fifth PGA Championship, 16th Major and 82nd PGA win to equal Sam Snead's all-time haul.
In the build-up, there will be talk of the possibility of scarlet fever in the final round.
Tiger's tradition is to dress in powerful red on Sunday, and it has become relevant, again.
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