Is Tiger Woods Back?

After his stunning win at The Memorial last week, is it safe to say that Tiger Woods is back in major form?

What skills can you learn during relationships with multiple strippers? How to tease, and Woods has become a master of stringing us along.

It is easy to utter the words "Tiger Woods is back," unless you are Elin Nordegren. The difficulty arises not when you say "Tiger Woods is back," but when you make a decision on punctuating it. Should you end the sentence with a period, or a question mark? Ask Woods himself, and he'll tell you grammar was never his thing, although he still considers diction his strong suit, albeit a quality that is somewhat out of practice.

No one knows whether Woods is truly "back," and no one will know until he captures that elusive 15th major. Will that come at the U.S. Open in San Francisco on June 14th-17th? Woods' compelling victory at The Memorial last week makes a solid case that the physical and mental aspects of his game are in harmony, with the magic not far behind.

Woods' incredible flop wedge on the 16th at The Memorial was arguably the most dramatic swing of a lofted iron since November 27, 2009, when Nordegren, like Woods on Sunday, took a full swing, and, like Woods, left satisfied and liberated. That fateful day in November marked the end of the "first" Woods era, and left he world's greatest golfer in search of himself, which is likely the first time Woods went looking for someone other than a female.

It was a stage of his life that was buried in the heavy rough, much like Woods' lie at the 16th after his tee shot went long. His exquisite wedge won him the tournament, and may have opened the door to the "second" Woods era, assuming he follows up his Memorial victory with a major in 2012.

Is it fair to judge Woods' resurgence by major wins alone? It is when you consider that Woods himself measures success mainly with majors. And without another major, Woods cannot expect to be labeled, by himself or by others, the equal of the 1997-2009 Tiger.

But let's give Woods credit where credit is due: he's battled his demons, and, at this point, seems to have defeated them. Considering his match play record, he must have beaten his demons in stroke play.

And his demons were substantial: marital indiscretions, dishonesty, and a sex addiction, which I'm sure many would gladly sacrifice their golf games to pursue. But sex addiction is no laughing matter. If it can bring down the world's best golfer, it must be a damaging force.

It's not often a 14-time major winner can overcome a sex addiction to continue pursuit of Jack Nicklaus. This is probably not what Nicklaus had in mind when he fantasized about being chased by a sex addict. But let's not blame Tiger for his addiction. Thanks to his prowess on the course, he spent so many years being called a freak that he finally became one.

But fans can easily forgive such transgressions, especially those of someone who can manufacture shots like that on the 16th at The Memorial. Woods is driven by the positive energy of the fans, much as he is driven by the negative energy of golf experts, fellow professionals, and former swing coaches (there are "tell all" books, and then there are "all tail" books, which, in Woods' case, make much better reads). Woods would like nothing more than throwing it in the face of his detractors. And that would be an ironic turnabout, because Woods spent years having "it" thrown in his face. Not that he complained.

Judging by the energy generated by Woods at The Memorial, most fans want to see him succeed.

But can Woods win his 15th major, and the three more needed to match Nicklaus' total of 18? It may not happen this year, but with at least 10 solid years left on the tour (probably a conservative estimate), it's seems unreasonable to think Woods can't average one major every two or three years.

Woods still has youth on his side. He is only 36, but it's a mature 36. Oh, the things he's witnessed in those 36 years. And oh, the thing's he witnessed since taking his predatory tendencies from the golf course to the sexual carnival that eventually spelled doom in his golf game. Claret's aren't the only jugs he's cradled. He's worn a green jacket on four times, and on countless other occasions, he's worn nothing but a green jacket. His sexual conquests with eager and anxious women throughout America put the "open" in "U.S. Open." He's taken the "PG" out of the "PGA" while adding lots more "A."

Such experience, and the mental toughness gained from such, can only serve him well on the golf course, where avoiding distraction is half the battle.

But before jumping to any rash conclusions and handing him the 2012 U.S. Open title, it's important to realize that Woods' game often leaves as quickly as it returns, something Woods himself was guilty of as a married man. As predictable as Woods was during the 1997-2009 time period, he is as equally unpredictable now. No one would be surprised is Woods won four more majors, just as no one would be surprised if he won none.

Right now, the odds seem to be in his favor, but before we can say Woods is truly "back," we'll need Tiger "proof."

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