Erickson: Masters win would only be beginning in Woods’ comeback

first_imgEverybody loves a good comeback.The Philadelphia Eagles’ 28 unanswered points in seven-and-a-half minutes to beat the New York Giants in Week 15 was one of the best moments in the 2010 NFL season.Lance Armstrong was given a less than 50 percent chance to live after being diagnosed with testicular cancer in 1996. From 1999 to 2005, he won seven Tour de France titles and is still living strong 15 years later.Michael Vick went from being one of the most hated men in football, with little hope of making a statement in the NFL ever again – and now he’s the starting quarterback for the Eagles.Yet, the sports world is still waiting for one more comeback.One year ago, Tiger Woods made his return to golf. After his now-infamous personal life scandal blew up news outlets during Thanksgiving 2009, Woods made his return to golf at the 2010 Masters.Yet, he still hasn’t solidified his comeback.He didn’t quite make the comeback he probably wanted in hopes of making the general public forget about his personal life. Woods has yet to even win an event since.Days after winning the 2008 U.S. Open Woods’ announced he needed knee surgery due to a torn ACL.A year later, his wife found out about his alleged sexcapades.Through 20 events over the past 17 months, Woods’ play hasn’t been anywhere near what it was pre-scandal.Sure, Woods tore his ACL, but he still managed a few wins in 2009 after the 2008 surgery.One year since his return, is it finally time for Tiger to return to the top of the golf world?Well, that depends. Will the old Woods show up or not?Last year, Woods shared a fourth place finish at the Masters and since then has struggled with his short game.This season hasn’t looked too promising for the former course god.Woods opened his season at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines Golf Course and tied for 44th, one of the worst starts of his career.Now only one day into the Masters, Woods finished -1 with 71 strokes, placing him 24th. With two more rounds to play, if there were ever a time for Woods to make a comeback – in the match and his career – it would be now.Ask any athlete and he or she will tell you that your play during the biggest games is what matters most.Take the UConn men’s basketball team, for example. The Huskies finished ninth in their conference with a 9-9 conference record, but charged their way through the Big East Tournament. In the NCAA tournament, UConn upset San Diego State, defeated streaking Arizona and Kentucky, and finally dominated Butler to claim the national title.UConn didn’t have its strongest regular season, but the Huskies won the games that really counted.If there were ever a time for Woods’ pre-scandal, pre-knee surgery self to appear, now would be the time. Now is the time for him to play at his best, ? la UConn through March Madness or the Green Bay Packers through the NFL playoffs.In this year’s field, there really isn’t a front-runner or a favorite to run away with the green jacket.After one day, Rorey McIlroy and Alvro Quiros lead the field at -7 with 65 strokes. Neither McIlroy nor Quiros has ever won a major in their young professional careers.Defending Masters champion Phil Mickelson finished at -2 with 70 strokes in 2010. The only other green jacket winner doing better than Mickelson is Trevor Immelman (-3 with 69 strokes), who won in 2008.If Woods can find the inner strength that formerly captivated golf fans around the world, then expect to see him wearing black and red on Sunday.Despite his rocky start to the season, Woods is still very much in the running to win his first major since 2008. If Woods wins that coveted green jacket a fifth time, don’t expect his comeback to be complete.While a win would certainly launch him into comeback mode, especially with the dismal start he has had this season, Woods’ comeback requires more than just one majors win.A green jacket would start him off on the right foot, but he’ll need to finish the rest of the season strong, with a few more wins if not another major win.Vick wasn’t just named the starting quarterback and then blessed with a complete comeback. He had to work for it, and it wasn’t until he led the Eagles to the playoffs that his comeback was truly solidified.A Masters win for Woods would be like Vick being named starting quarterback. The work is just beginning.While Woods has a decent chance at a major win this weekend, it’s only the start of a longer process for him. Until he returns to being a dominating presence on the course -or at least a shadow of that figure – that process will continue to be ongoing.Kelly is a sophomoreintending to major in journalism. Do you think Woods has a good chance at thisyear’s green jacket? Do you think this could be his comeback year? Let her knowwhat you think at kerickson@badgerherald.comor follower her on Twitter @kellyerickson4.last_img read more

Trojan football faces most difficult schedule in nation

first_imgWith the opening game of the 2016 football season against defending champion Alabama less than a month away, the Trojans must prepare for not only their tough season opener, but also the most difficult schedule in the nation. Additionally on the schedule for the Trojans are eight of the 10 Pac-12 teams who made a bowl game last season.Ranked 17th in the preseason USA TODAY Coaches’ Poll, USC will not have easy games early in the season with three of their first four games coming in road games against Alabama, Stanford and Utah.The Trojans may put up a solid fight with the Tide as Alabama loses star running back and last year’s Heisman Trophy winner, Derrick Henry. This could put a serious strain on the Tide’s emphasis on a run-the-ball offense, forcing the new quarterback, likely Cooper Bateman or Blake Barnett, to throw the ball.The key for a USC victory in the opener is to be able to break through the offensive line and put pressure on the quarterback while covering senior Alabama tight end O.J. Howard.“We want to keep defenses off balance by being balanced offensively,” head coach Clay Helton said. “We believe we have the personnel to run the ball effectively and physically and to be explosive in the passing game. At the end of the day, though, we know that we must be able to run the ball and not turn it over.”In the weeks to follow, the Trojans can expect tough road games as they play conference rivals No. 7 Stanford and Utah in weeks three and four, respectively. Again, their defense will have to control two primarily running offenses, particularly Stanford with the return of Heisman runner-up and AP Player of the Year junior running back Christian McCaffrey, who is predicted to lead the Cardinal to another strong season.Midseason, USC faces Arizona State, Colorado and Arizona, with a week eight bye. Arizona’s junior quarterback Anu Solomon, ranked fourth in the school’s passing yards history, will test the Trojans’ receiver and tight end coverage while Colorado continues to improve its pass rush defense.The final weeks, will continue to be challenging as the Trojans face Cal and No. 23 Oregon at home in weeks nine and 10 respectively before hitting the road to face No. 18 Washington and No. 24 UCLA the next two weeks before finally hosting No. 9 Notre Dame at home for a timeless non-conference matchup.The Fighting Irish have had the upper hand against the Trojans, having won the most recent matchup 41-31. Notre Dame features two quarterbacks — senior Malik Zaire and junior DeShone Kizer — on the 2016 Maxwell Award Watch List, who combine to become a  deadly duo for passing and rushing yards at quarterback. However, the Irish have lost key offensive players such as wide receiver Will Fuller, cornerback KeiVarae Russell and running back C.J. Posise.But the Trojans have the advantage over their crosstown rival, leading the series 46-31-7. The main area of concern for the Trojans is the Bruins’ defense. The 2015 season marked a free fall in UCLA’s “Linebacker U” reputation with linebacker Myles Jack out for the majority of the season due to a torn meniscus. Despite the loss, UCLA sees potential in rebuilding their defense this season with returning senior linebacker Jayon Brown, who recorded 69 tackles in the Bruins’ last seven games.Despite a formidable schedule ahead, Helton and the team are ready to tackle the challenge head on.“I, along with our coaches and players, understand where the bar is set, and we welcome the high expectations,” Helton said. “Our goal will never change here at USC. We are about winning championships and all of us will work tirelessly toward that goal.”last_img read more