The Sports View: Taming of a Tiger
With Tiger Woods in the final pairing of the Masters on Sunday most figured the four-time winner would roar to life and crush the competition, as that is Tigers usual MO. But the cold conditions and a field that decided they would not stand idle while Woods slipped on another green jacket kept the "Tiger" rather tame.
"A giant has to fall at some point," said 2007 Masters champion Zack Johnson.
The 31-year-old Johnson came out of nowhere to play rock steady golf under very dry and fast conditions at Augusta National. Johnson came into the final round at 4-over, taking bogey on Augusta's 12th hole after knocking it to within two feet on Saturday.
On Sunday Johnson showed that it was to be his day, not Tigers.
He took birdie on 13 and 14 to get to one over while Woods had fallen to 5-over after a bogey at the 10th. Woods came stomping back into the picture with a beautiful drive and approach on the 13th leaving him no more than a tap in for eagle. But Johnson refused to melt under the staggering pressure of Augusta, he birdied the par three 17th to pull even for the tournament and shift the pressure back to Woods.
When Tiger's approach on the par 5, 15th found the water it became apparent it was now Johnson's tournament to win. He bogeyed the 17th to fall back to 1-over. But Tiger would get no closer than 3-over on Sunday.
"It's so surreal," said Johnson who's +1 finish is the worst winning score at the Master's since the 1956 tournament.
This win will thrust Johnson into the lime light of a tour in which the native Iowan has only one victory. The winner's portion of the purse at Augusta is $1.3 million and change, a world away from the checks Johnson was seeing on the Hooters Tour in the very recent past.
"I'm a normal guy," said Johnson. And maybe that is what it will take to challenge Mr. Woods. With the tour's bigger names such as Aussie Stewart Appleby, folding like a chair in the early portion of the final round, and the likes of Vejay Singh and Phil Mickelson posing no real threat this year, the tour's "normal guys" are going to have to continue to step up and challenge Woods.
The year's next major, the 2007 U.S. Open will take place at Oakmont and Tiger will be itching to throw a serious beat down on the "normal guy" and redeem his winning streak.
As a side note, in NFL news Rickie Williams formerly of the Miami Dolphins has applied for reinstatement to the league. Williams, who played last year in Canada, was suspended for a year for violating the leagues substance abuse policy. Williams will be eligible for reinstatement after April 27. Williams won the Heisman Trophy at Texas and was originally drafted to the New Orleans Saints in 1999 as the next Walter Payton. After a tough couple of years in New Orleans, Williams was traded to the Miami Dolphins in 2001 and excelled within their offense. He abruptly retired in 2004 and then returned in '05. The suspension handed down by former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue was William's fourth. His previous positive drug tests have been for marijuana, a drug Williams has never denied using.
Williams gained 7,097 in his NFL career and rushed for 47 touchdowns. He played well in the CFL last year gaining 526 yards in a season that was shortened by two months due to a broken arm.
He still has good skills and would prove a good back-up and third down back for many teams around the league as he has good hands. If he can just stay off the pot....
Information for this article was obtained through Yahoo! Sports and incessant viewing of SportsCenter.