Padraig Harrington: “Tiger Woods? Amazing”

“It’s incredible,” Padraig Harrington said Sunday afternoon. “I suppose it’s occasions like this that people on the ‘inside’ see how big Tiger really is. We’re on the inside. I played with him all these years, and you get somewhat used to it. I remember when he came back at Tampa (2018 Valspar Championship), and there was just a different noise, a different crowd. None of the younger guys would have seen that.

Padraig Harrington, statements

“He completely upped it at the Masters,” Harrington continued, “and the TOUR Championship (which he won in late 2018), and he comes out here and there is a different excitement. … It’s amazing. Last year was the Charlie Woods Show, and Tiger figured a way to make it the Tiger Woods Show this year.”

But not only did Woods show up, he delivered, too, as he always seems to do. Team Woods finished second, two shots back. Many chuckled when Woods turned up to the Masters as an amateur in 1995 and told anyone who would listen that he was there to win. Cute, we thought. But that was his mindset, we’d learn, and always has been.

Woods used the word “thankful” several times last week. Thankful to be here after his harrowing SUV crash. Thankful to have his right leg, and not be learning to walk on a prosthetic. Thankful to be alongside his only son, competing as a team.

The fans who watched? Well, Tiger was back, and they were thankful, too. They may have to wait for months to see him compete again. Maybe longer. Those are the new rules of where he is, and what he is capable of doing physically. We can wait.

“I always think that golf is in a really good place, regardless of who’s around,” said Kuchar, 43, who is in his 22nd season on TOUR. “There’s a great crop of young kids who are really doing well. But look, we all know the Tiger Effect is real. It’s a massive needle mover. Just to see this event, the excitement, the buzz, it’s huge. Everywhere he goes, it follows him.”

Where the spotlight follows him next, that’s a question for another day. For a weekend, anyway, golf was just happy to have Tiger Woods back. And he delivered, as he always does.

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