By Jim Moriarty Photos by Dom Furore
June 23, 2008

Will Tiger be the favorite next year at Augusta?

My name is Jim, and I'm a skeptic.

I see some familiar faces out there. Come on in, Retief. Have a seat. I know it stinks being on the wrong side of history but, in the harsh light of day, some of you were just as suspicious of Tiger Woods' knee injury as I was. Not that it didn't hurt, mind you, but that it didn't hurt that much. Fortunately, being wrong is not a concept with which I am unfamiliar. I have a way to help us through this.

The first step in our recovery is admitting we have a problem. So, in an effort to embrace our inner idiot, I'm going to begin a 12-step program for those of us who have ever doubted or underestimated Tiger Woods. I'm taking the pledge here and now, swearing off any reservations once and for all. I'm going cold Tiger. Feel free to join me when you've hit bottom.

Step 1: We are powerless against him.

Step 2: Our total belief in Tiger will restore us to sanity.

Step 3: We have turned our thirst over to Gatorade Tiger Red Drive.

Step 4: We have conducted an honest inventory of our previous dysfunctional opinions and found ourselves, but never Tiger, wanting.

Step 5: We have admitted to Tiger and his agent the exact nature of our ill-conceived delusions.

Step 6: We are re-reading Training a Tiger: A Father's Guide to Raising a Winner in Both Golf and Life.

Step 7: Hey, Tiger, give us a break, eh? We didn't mean anything by it. Honest.

Step 8: A list of our mistakes. Personally, I will begin at the beginning. Just after you turned pro, we had a round-table discussion where we predicted how many majors you would win in your career. I think I said four, though frankly, at the time, I thought that might have been overly generous. I figured four would have been a decent career for a guy who couldn't beat Ed Fiori.

Step 9: This is particularly distasteful, but we apologize to our innocent editors, though that may be an oxymoron.

Step 10: We are willing and able on a continuing basis to come to your defense down at the pub in all conversations involving your exploits. No one will doubt you in our presence ever again.

Step 11: We have sought to make your website the home page on our computer so that we can increase our awareness of you.

Step 12: Having been awakened as a result of the previous steps, I am now carrying the message to other poor souls who also have doubted you at any time in the past. I'm sure you have the list.

So, there you have it. When I saw the setup at Torrey Pines, I figured the boys would kill it. Wrong. I figured the competitive layoff would hurt Tiger a lot worse than his surgically repaired knee. Wrong again.

After his win I said Torrey Pines 2008 should not be confused with Merion (and Ben Hogan) 1950. I still believe that, but Tiger's performance will have to do until the next best thing comes along. Tiger says after doctors fix the ligament, he'll be as good as new. I believe him completely. See Step 2 above.

Some people say he shouldn't have played, that he harmed himself in the process. I don't agree. See Steps 4 and 10.

Who do you suppose will be the favorite next April in Augusta and by how much?

Until then, he should enjoy his privacy and follow his doctor's orders.