NASSAU, Bahamas — At precisely 1:15 p.m. ET on Saturday, you could sense it was happening again.
Not just from the modest gallery here at the Hero World Challenge, which roared with approval as Tiger Woods holed a greenside bunker shot for his fourth birdie in five holes. No, it was bigger than that. The energy, the electricity. It was emanating from all directions.
For the third time in three days, Woods was whipping the masses into a frenzy, evoking memories of the old Tigermania days, when the mere sight of his name on a leaderboard would captivate that ever-expanding audience. He pummeled drives deep down the fairways. He rolled in birdie putts with the greatest of ease.
For the second time in those three days, though, the frenzy dissipated just as quickly as it had blossomed.
Woods parlayed a 4-under front nine into just a 2-under 70 that concluded with a double-bogey after he found the water hazard with his second shot on the final hole. It mirrored his opening round of two days earlier — his first competitive round in 466 days — when he turned a 3-under front nine into a 1-over 73 by making doubles on two of the last three holes.
The immediate reaction might be to criticize Woods for these struggles down the stretch. After all, he has spent so much of the past three days looking eerily similar to the player who has won 14 major championships that it’s easy to forget just how rusty he’s supposed to be.
Of course, any critical analysis of Woods’ performance this week…