Woods, Wie Combine to Give Golf a Needed Boost
At a time when golf could use a boost, it got one from two of its marquee names: Tiger Woods announced his return to action, proving his ability to move the needle without picking up a club, and Michelle Wie finally delivered on a decade of unfulfilled promise by winning the Women's U.S. Open. The duo's timing couldn't have been better; following a boring U.S. Open blowout win by Martin Kaymer that was watched start-to-finish only by proud parents and spouses, the game needed a jolt of adrenaline. Cue the return of its transcendent superstar, coupled with a long-awaited major breakthrough by the one player who can stir interest in the women's game, and golf's back on track. Oh, and the Travelers Championship offered a little history of its own, courtesy of champion Kevin Streelman. Here are the key numbers to know from an important weekend in golf.
It's been 109 days since Tiger Woods last put club to ball on the PGA Tour. His last competitive round was a Sunday 78 at the Cadillac Championship on March 9 prior to his surgery to relieve a pinched nerve in his back at the end of March.
There have been 24 major championships since Woods' last major win, the 2008 U.S. Open. His return coincides with the return of the British Open to Royal Liverpool, a course that Tiger dismantled in winning the 2006 Open.
24 years, 8 months
Michelle Wie has finally won her first major at the age of 24 years, 8 months, after a decade in the public eye. But it's worth pointing out that Wie is slightly younger than Annika Sorenstam was when she won the first of her 10 career major titles. There's plenty of time for Wie to deliver on her youthful promise after nearly being derailed by a premature hype machine. After threatening a late collapse with a double bogey at 16, Wie collected herself with a 25-foot birdie bomb at 17, using her distinctive table-top putting stance, to clinch a two-shot win over Stacy Lewis at Pinehurst No. 2.
Speaking of that unusual putting stance, it may earn some snickers, but Wie is getting results. She didn't have a single three-putt on Donald Ross' treacherous greens at Pinehurst No. 2 in shooting 68-68-72-70, and she had 25 one-putts.
Almost consumed in the Woods-Wie hype, Kevin Streelman made history at the Travelers Championship with seven consecutive closing birdies, a record for a tournament winner. The birdie binge gave Streelman a one-shot win over K.J. Choi and Sergio Garcia. Making the turn, Streelman told his caddie that he would shoot a closing 29. His prediction was off by a stroke; he closed with a 28 at TPC River Highlands. "I had 10 one-putts in a row," Streelman said. "That's something I've definitely never done before."