Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Best Yet to Come as Tiger Eyes the All-Time Record

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Best Yet to Come as Tiger Eyes the All-Time Record

Article excerpt

Byline: IAN CHADBAND

WHEN were the golden years of Tiger Woods?

Five years ago, when the young colossus laid waste to the Open Championship field at St Andrews so soon after winning the US Open by a country mile? Or in 2005, when he won his second major of the year here yesterday on the same Old Course and in a manner scarcely less emphatic or majestic?

The answer? Neither. "Usually the golden years are your 30s for a golfer.

Hopefully that will be the case for me," beamed Woods after triumphing in what again felt a glorious, historic Open at the game's home. You could almost hear the groans of despair from Ernie Els, Vijay Singh, Phil Mickelson and Retief Goosen.

For at 29, this victory, his 10th major championship, felt like the full flowering of the remodelled Woods, a player perhaps only now entering the era of his most elevated mastery.

Sure, in 2000, he felt like an unstoppable force. Now, though, there is an argument that, after reinventing his game during a couple of relatively barren years, he has become a more complete player than ever.

"It's hard to say," mused his coach Hank Haney as he pondered whether Tiger 2005 was superior to Tiger 2000.

"But I know he has more shots now, he plays those shots with more ease and it gives him a more comfortable feeling mentally. He certainly looked very relaxed out there."

Indeed, that comfort and relaxation was striking.

After his win five years ago, he was so blind to any self-doubt that when asked afterwards if he had gone in any bunkers, he responded as if the thought never entered his mind.

Today's Woods, though - the older, wiser and married version - does find bunkers, does know more about losing and has had critics tut-tutting about his self-reinvention. Yet this week's evidence suggests an even more serene, mature athlete has emerged, one with a calmer temperament and even better course managementskills to complement his unmatched ball-striking gifts.

It seems clear that the man himself thinks the new Tiger is the best model yet. "I've been criticised for the last couple of years. …

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