Return of the Masters Master

Tiger's finally back, and the sports world is better for it

Tiger Woods. Getty Images.

This is why we love sports.

A dominant athlete becomes a transcendental star and elevates his sport. Then he falls from grace, only to find redemption over a decade later.

The sports world has been begging for Tiger Woods to win another major golf tournament. Woods moves the needle like few athletes, and TV ratings, page views and newspaper sales benefit from it.

Sunday, however, it was all about Woods. It was a story of persistence, redemption and skill, and it brought us one of those sports moments that will be remembered for a long time.

Woods' long road back from a very public divorce, multiple injuries and ineffectiveness came on a magical Sunday afternoon where he made shot after big shot, while younger challengers made their moves and fell off, as Woods won the Masters by one stroke.

It is simply one of the greatest comebacks in sports. With 11 years between majors, Woods is finally all the way back.

Back on track

Woods finished at -13 over the four rounds, getting three birdies on the back nine to close out the win. He won his 15th major title, and his fifth Masters, one fewer than Jack Nicklaus for first all time. Now, the race to catch Nicklaus' 18 major titles is back on. Just 11 years ago, it looked like it would be a lock. Then it looked like it would never happen. Now, every major tournament takes on meaning again. Everyone will pay attention to see what Tiger does next. I am like a lot of people; if Tiger has a chance, I will watch. If not? Just not that interested. He made Sunday more than interesting.

A win for golf

Yes, golf needed this. Tiger made the sport relevant in ways it had never seen before and had not seen since. New golf courses cropped up everywhere. Young athletes chose golf over other sports. Tiger inspired a generation of new players.

And now, he can do it again. This was not the dominant Tiger of the past; this was a player who used his knowledge of the course and experience to pull off an amazing win.

It all turned on No. 12, when leader Francesco Molinari put his tee shot in water. Woods did the smart thing, putting his shot in the middle of the green and taking a two-putt par. From there, he was almost perfect, with only a hiccup on 18 that he had room for thanks to a two-shot lead. It was a clinic in smart golf.

Even he did not see it coming

Even Tiger thought he was done thanks to his back injury. Ten years ago I made a joking prediction that he would never win another major. As the injuries mounted, it looked like that would be the case. But he got healthy, and was close last year in two majors.

Sunday, he broke through in a big way. It was fun to watch, and I was happy to see that failed prediction come crashing down.

All about Tiger

It is an amazing story. Golf is now interesting again. The sports world got what it wanted; Tiger is back in a big way. But in the end, it was not about that. It was about Tiger himself, making history and doing what we have missed all these years - creating a major sports moment.

Welcome back, Tiger. Let's hope there is a lot more to come.

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A WEEKLY REVIEW OF CRENNEL'S COACHING

Now my job: Texans feast on Lions

Photo by Getty Images.

Thanksgiving is full of tradition. There's the typical family gathering, large meal, and of course, football. Sometimes, new traditions are added and old ones are retired. I think the Texans did both in their impressive 41-25 win over the Lions in Detroit. Old traditions were carried on (Lions losing on Thanksgiving), some were put to rest (Texans not being able to get turnovers), and new ones were started (multiple passing touchdowns by Deshaun Watson in six straight games).

The fact that this defense got three turnovers in the game was unbelievable! They got all three in the first quarter within the span of eight plays. JJ Watt's pick-six was insane. He went for a batted ball, ended up catching it, and ran it in. They forced Jonathan Williams to fumble on the Lions' very next play from scrimmage and recovered it. On the Lions' next possession, the Texans recovered yet another fumble after the challenge was reversed. Great call by the coaching staff to challenge and win. The defense looked good. Tyrell Adams stood out because he was in on those two fumbles, made 17 total tackles with 14 of them being solo tackles. They also brought pressure that seemed to make Matthew Stafford very inaccurate and resulted in four sacks. I give defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver credit for knowing he needs to blitz to get pressure, but the run defense has to improve.

The offense kept the tempo up in this game as well. The spread and hurry-up were used to keep the Lions already staggered defense off balance. Knowing the Lions were without a couple defensive backs, I thought it would be the perfect marriage of their defense and the Texans' offense. A buddy asked before the game about the line (Texans -3.5) and the over/under (52.5). I told him bet the Texans and the over because neither team can play defense and both have good quarterbacks. Offensive coordinator Tim Kelly put together another good game plan and Watson executed it flawlessly. One route combo I saw later on in the game I particularly enjoyed. Two receivers were tight to the left side. Cooks ran a hook/curl and settled in the middle of the zone while Fuller ran a vertical route. Duke Johnson ran a swing route to that same side. It left Cooks wide open as the attention went to Johnson in the flat, Fuller deep, and the action to the other play side. Route combos are important because it gives the quarterback different reads as he goes through his progressions and lets him pick apart the defense based on what he sees. Combine that with Watson's play and the way Kelly has changed his play calling now that he's liberated from he who shall not be named, we're seeing a beautiful thing.

As good as things were, there's still room for improvement. The defense gives up way too many easy yards, both run and pass. They can't get pressure bringing only four and will often give up big plays if the blitz is picked up. Plus the run defense is still an issue as evidenced by the Lions' first possession of the second half. The Lions ran the ball 10 plays straight for a total of 58 yards on that drive. Utterly ridiculous! Watson was good (17/25 318 yards and four touchdowns), but he missed two more touchdowns with passes slightly off, and continues to hold onto the ball too long at times. The difference between these two issues I've presented here is the fact that Watson has so played well, his "issues" are minor and very correctable, while the defense is terrible and there's no easy fix in sight. But let Romeo Crennel and Anthony Weaver tell it, they're getting the most out of these guys and they're playing disciplined.

The thought that this team may actually creep into the playoff picture may take shape better after next week if they can beat the Colts. I doubt it, but it is getting interesting. Let's see what else happens around them because they need help getting there.

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