2010 US Open - Tiger Woods Brings Electrifying Back

It had been six months since the Tiger Woods accident and ensuing Tiger Woods Scandal... yet we were still waiting for the Tiger Woods return.

And while... in the scheme of things... a half a year isn't long at all, this did feel long. ~ OK, it felt endless.

To the extent that some had forgotten what it was like for golf to be electrifying.

It was heartwarming when Phil Mickelson won the Masters... and the ensuing months produced some great winners, but for the most part, spectator reaction remained as subdued as the proverbial golf clap. ~ One could clearly feel the peripheral fans falling away, and even among more ardent fans there was a palpable feeling of listlessness.

Today however, in the third round of the 2010 US Open we finally had electrifying back. It was unmistakable. Everyone felt it.

There are surely those who didn't approve of the way it happened. The ex-fans who can't get past the deception they discovered several months ago and journalists who felt they had finally exacted a measure of revenge for years of being manipulated by Team Tiger. There are probably purists who don't feel golf should have ever been made electrifying in the first place ...but it was clearly there yesterday wrapped in a string of back-nine birdies and a hail of fist pumps... and sealed with the magically implausible trajectory of a "hold-it 3-wood" to the 18th green.

This after being nine behind after back-to-back bogeys earlier in the day.

No one knows what will happen today, and even by the standards of the old Tiger Woods a win today at Pebble Beach is a long shot, but we've clearly seen that the fallen champion can still harness his former greatness and that he alone... at least among the current crop of professional golfers... can electrify an audience of casual golf fans. Whatever the outcome is today, yesterday was significant, both for what it said about Tiger Woods and what it said about those of us who follow golf.

Photos: by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images North America