PEOPLE should cast their minds back a year before declaring that Tiger Woods is on his way back to the top.
For the second Presidents Cup in a row, Woods secured the winning point as the Americans beat the Internationals 19-15 at Royal Melbourne yesterday. He did it with a brilliant five-under-par display in the 15 holes he needed to defeat Aaron Baddeley.
At Celtic Manor in October 2009, however, Woods was nine under in thrashing Francesco Molinari by the same 4&3 score.
He finished the Ryder Cup that week with three points out of four, but failed to win a tournament in 2010 and has still to end a barren spell that goes back 24 months.
In Australia, he won only two of his five games and in the first of them suffered his worst-ever matchplay defeat, a 7&6 foursomes hammering at the hands of Adam Scott and KJ Choi.
Woods, now back outside the world's top 50, will be hoping that a putting tip from Steve Stricker, his partner last Thursday, works for more than a day.
And International captain Greg Norman is hoping so as well.
"Tiger's Tiger -- he stepped up to the plate," Norman said. "I said to him 'You need golf as much as golf needs you'. We all want to see him up there.
"Any player hates to see a great player struggle. We all know what it's like to go through the ins and outs of the game. You want to see the player who dominated the game come back so that when you beat him you feel like you beat him at the top of his game."
Woods, advised by Stricker to alter his ball position, said: "I played well all week, but unfortunately didn't make any putts in the first four matches.
"Today (Sunday) was a different deal - they poured right in. It felt great."
His delight was matched by captain Fred Couples, whose early choice of Woods as one of his two wildcards sparked a fierce debate in the sport.
"I don't know if I've ever felt vindicated in golf in 30 years, but I feel like I know what I'm doing," he said.