It will be an unbelievable, inconceivable feat if he can somehow win The Arnie.
It would tie one of the great accomplishments in golf history if Tiger Woods could hold on today and win his eighth championship at Bay Hill.
It would mean Arnie has suddenly become the host of the Tiger Woods Championship.
It would mean Tiger has tied Sam Snead's all-time record for wins at a PGA Tour event and pulled to within five of Snead's all-time record for PGA Tour victories.
It would mean Tiger has completed an arduous, scandalous climb back from 58th in the world rankings to his rightful place as the No. 1 golfer in the world.
And, amazingly, the questions about Tiger's game will still remain until he wins another major championship. This is both the curse and beauty of Tiger.
He has spent his nights this week watching college basketball, which only seems appropriate. He is, after all, the Mike Krzyzewski of golf. Just winning the ACC championship or getting to the Final Four isn't good enough for Coach K and his Duke Blue Devils. Unless they win the national title, their season is considered a bit of a disappointment. The same with Tiger. He could win 10 times on the PGA Tour this season and it wouldn't mean nearly as much as winning his first major in five years.
Deep down, even Tiger knows it. When a reporter asked him earlier this week if winning a major is the only way he will be judged completely back, he replied: "I think that's based on opinion. I feel like I'm headed in the right direction. I'm very pleased where I've come from. Like I said, 50-plus [in the world rankings] to where I'm at is no small task."
But then came the caveat.
"I'd like to get to 19-plus myself."
Translation: Winning 19 majors and breaking the all-time record is all that really matters. It's no secret that Tiger judges his own career in relation to Jack Nicklaus's 18 major championships, not in relation to Sam Snead's 82 PGA Tour wins.
In fact, when I asked Tiger what it would mean to him to win his eighth Arnie and tie Snead's single-tournament record of winning eight Greater Greensboro Opens, he just shrugged and said, "Yeah, I guess it would [tie the record], but I look at the fact that I've won Torrey eight times. I guess no one counts the U.S. Open."
Tiger's response is only natural — the same as an NFL quarterback saying Super Bowl championships are more important than regular-season victories or LeBron and the Miami Heat saying winning a second consecutive NBA championship is much bigger than breaking the Lakers' 33-game winning streak.
It's probably not fair Tiger is judged only by what he does in the majors, but it's his own fault. He has put such an emphasis on breaking Jack's record that golf fans have become trained to evaluate him in this way.
Nobody except the golf media knows or cares who is ranked No. 1 in the world rankings. In fact, Tiger himself never seemed to care until he lost the No. 1 ranking. Nobody pays much attention to the fact that Tiger already has won twice on tour this season, triumphed five times in his last 19 starts and has more Tour victories than anyone in the last two years.
But everybody is acutely aware that that he hasn't won a major since the 2008 U.S. Open and hasn't won the Masters in nearly a decade. He is 37 years old now and his window of opportunity is growing short on running down Jack.
He could win a dozen Dorals and two-dozen John Deere Classics, and it wouldn't matter. Tiger is measured by U.S. Opens, not Houston Opens. He's judged by what he does at Augusta National; not by what he does at the AT&T National.
With all due respect to the King, you know, I know and Tiger knows that he'd trade eight Arnies for one major at this point in his career.
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