Every Sunday night, the editorial staff of the SI Golf Group conducts an e-mail roundtable. Check in every week for the unfiltered opinions of our writers and editors and join the conversation in the comments section below.
TIGER STORMS BACK TO WIN MEMORIAL
Damon Hack, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: Welcome back to PGA Tour Confidential, or as I like to call it, Golf in the Summer of Love. Man, how good has this golf season been? I've got goose bumps on my goose bumps. Tiger Woods is golf's Frank Sinatra. He's older. He's taken his lumps. And still, nobody plays the big room like him. Three birdies in the final four holes, including a flop shot on the 16th that Jack Nicklaus called "the most unbelievable, gutsy shot I've ever seen." So tell me. Do you believe? Is Tiger Woods finally back?
Alan Shipnuck, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: I don't even want to think about. I just want to savor the moment.
Michael Bamberger, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: It was great. It was spectacular. It was exciting. But Tiger is not, quote, back. This is a new Tiger, a different chapter, a changed man even if he won't acknowledge it. We know better.
Rick Lipsey, writer-reporter, Sports Illustrated: Today was nice, but majors are all that matter. Bust out at Olympic, or this season's still a bust for TW.
Jim Gorant, senior editor, Sports Illustrated: It's a nice step. Felt good today, but not sure I can trust it yet. Trending in the right direction though.
Gary Van Sickle, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: Tiger is back in control of his ball. His shotmaking is back. That's a DefCon 1 statement there. He made the most of what he had at Bay Hill. At Memorial, with a few putts here and there, he would have won by half a dozen. This was dominant ballstriking. He missed only one shot (his second at 10) in the entire final round. Look out, everyone.
Jeff Ritter, senior producer, Golf.com: I don't think we can debate whether he's "back" until he wins a major. Even then, to measure him against his past success won't be a fair fight. But right now he's still one of the game's best. This win impressed me more than Bay Hill, because Tiger was always more of a front-runner than a come-from-behind-artist. Woods may live for the majors, but this was still a huge moment for him.
Stephanie Wei, contributor, SI Golf+: I'm still processing what I had the privilege of witnessing in person. He had that "look." On 15 tee Tiger backed off because he heard a camera phone shutter, but he didn't really scowl or glare at the crowd. He just went through his routine again with confidence and bombed it. He had his old aura, which I hadn't seen since the back nine at Pebble Beach during the third round at the 2010 U.S. Open.
David Dusek, deputy editor, Golf.com: Yes, Tiger Woods is back, but that doesn't mean that I think he's going to break Jack Nicklaus's record of 18 major championships. He's back to being a player who can contend on any given week, probably win 3 to 5 tournaments a year if things go his way, and probably win a couple more majors.
Gorant: It seems crazy to say he's going to play well enough to win three to five times a year, but that comes with an arbitrary cap of two more majors. If he's good enough to win two more, he's good enough to win four.
Dusek: I hear you, but I'm waiting for the next injury to strike Tiger's knee or Achilles. I don't have a lot of faith in his health at this point. I'm also waiting for the next run of good golf from the younger players. We've all said Woods is an old 36, but I see him having five more really competitive years against the current field of players, who are still getting better -- Rory, Luke, and maybe a few others.
Gorant: Along those lines, I thought it was interesting that at the start of the round CBS was talking about the Rickie-Tiger pairing and a potential changing of the guard. Instead, Rickie had a front-row seat to the good old days. Wonder what the impact will be as he tells that story around the locker room over the next few weeks.
Shipnuck: I'm not sure majors are all that matter to Tiger anymore. In the old days, winning the Memorial was ho-hum, but this had to be deeply, deeply satisfying.
Wei: I agree, Alan. This felt different from Bay Hill. This felt like vintage Tiger '09.
Bamberger: He was far more dominating at Bay Hill.
Wei: Still, I was much more impressed with this victory, coming from two down with four to play, than Bay Hill. I haven't seen him look this confident in a long time, and he wasn't letting his misses bother him.
Mick Rouse, editorial assistant, SI Golf Group: That final stretch was certainly some of the best I've seen out of Tiger since his woes began, but which Tiger is back exactly? Tiger 1.0, 2.0, 3, 4, 5? What number are we on now? Either way, this is the curse of being Tiger Woods. The previous three events weren't ideal, but look at his season: he has two wins, a runner-up, a T15 and a T17. For any other guy, that's phenomenal. It can't be said enough -- Tiger's held to a ridiculously high standard.
Wei: Sorry, I'm not a fan of the "Is Tiger back" debate. He'll never dominate like he did pre-scandal.
Van Sickle: You don't see Luke or Dufner or even Rory hit shots that precise all the way around 18 holes the way Tiger did Sunday. When he is in control of the ball, he's the Ben Hogan of his era. Granted, his wild driving of the past six years has made us forget that, but he's in a class by himself as a shotmaker. That ability, if he's on his game, makes him the man to beat in every major championship. Who knows how many more he'll win? But he's going to have more chances if he's playing like this.
Tell us what you think in the comments section below: Is Tiger Woods officially "back"?