It was the year the euro was established (I still say it’s a fad); the year Hugo Chávez became president of Venezuela (yes!); and the year Lance Armstrong won his first Tour de France (shaking head).
It was also the last time Tiger Woods wasn’t favored to win the Masters.
Indeed, this year the smart money is on Phil Mickelson, the three-time champion at Augusta National who could bungee-jump naked from the top row of Yankee Stadium with sparklers in each hand and still not be the least bit interesting.
Tiger, by contrast, has been a walking train-wreck since that fateful run-in with a fire hydrant outside his Florida home in late 2009. The subsequent revelations (including a harem of mistresses) resulted in the loss of multiple corporate sponsors — AT&T, Gillette, etc. — not to mention his marriage, dignity and heretofore squeaky-clean image.
The troubles didn’t end there though, as it’s actually been a remarkably multi-faceted plunge. You see, since winning the Australian Masters a week prior to “the incident,” Woods has failed to record a single tournament victory on any continent. His best finish in 2010 was a pair of fourth-place ties. Very un-Tigerlike.
Granted, he’s still only 35. And it’s not like he forgot how to hit the ball. But Woods winning majors is now far from a foregone conclusion. And it does seem like forever ago that he hoisted a trophy of any sort.
So with this year’s Masters upon us, and a new favorite in the clubhouse, the question is this: Will Tiger Woods ever regain his position atop the golfing universe? Will the drought continue indefinitely, or does the most transcendent sports figure of the past decade and a half put it together for one last run at greatness?
Comebacks do happen — just ask Pee-Wee Herman.
Does Tiger have one in him?