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Woods Shows Arrogance in Hogan Comparison

This column was written by National Columnist Mike Freeman.
In one day, over the span of a few hours, we saw the striking talent, continued elbowing of history and absurd arrogance of Tiger Woods.

After shooting a 2-under-par 70 to enter the weekend tied for fourth in his post-extreme-coitus Masters - a round that continues to demonstrate it's maybe not that the competition is so weak, it's that Woods is so good - the golfer met with the media.

In trying to put his absence and subsequent return to the Masters in some sort of perspective, Woods compared himself to legend Ben Hogan, who missed extensive time due to a car crash that nearly killed him. Complete Masters Coverage

It was the second time Woods made the comparison, and it's the second time it drew smirks. Hogan and his wife were hit by a Greyhound bus in February 1949. Hogan likely saved the life of his wife, Valerie, by throwing his body in front of hers. She received only minor injuries while Hogan suffered a broken collarbone, a smashed rib, a double fracture of the pelvis and a broken ankle.

Hogan missed time because he was a valiant hero who saved his wife. Woods missed time after cheating on his with cocktail waitresses and porn stars. Woods continually putting his name and Hogan's together in that way is like an actor who plays a war hero saying he knows the pain of war.

Yet that's Woods, and clearly such arrogance, rightly and wrongly, continues to fuel him. What he's doing at the Masters now is man bites dog stuff. It's the moon landing. It's the ghosts of Jim Brown, Michael Jordan and Babe Ruth all rolled up into one.
There's no question Woods could still fall apart this weekend. This is the Masters, and though Woods is playing like a God, he isn't one.

Still, the fact Woods is not just within striking distance but in clear control of the tournament after months of non-competitive play and TMZ stardom is stunning. It induces jaws to drop and multiple thesaurus runs.

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As he slowly climbs the leaderboard and others around him drop like the thick pollen covering the course with mustard-gas-like efficiency, the question has to be asked: Is Woods really this good, or the rest of the field that pedantic?

Maybe it's time to agree it's the former. It's not that Woods is in contention again, it's how he's in contention.

On Friday, he blew by a combination of rising stars, old timers and current greats. It was as if whatever the course threw at Woods, he flicked away. Even the airplane towing the humiliating banners on Thursday was grounded by the FAA because of an alleged maintenance issue (maintenance ... sure). When Bootyism Airline is grounded, you know everything is going Woods' way.

"Well, I felt that I could put myself in contention," Woods said. "My practice has been really consistent and progressing with Hank [Haney]. And as I said, I didn't have the luxury of playing tournaments coming in here. So I had to be more focused on my practice sessions coming into it and then take more out of them than most people would."

There were no eagles in the second round for Woods, but that's not what he needed. He needed calm, and that's what he produced. There was no recklessness or over-aggression - just a business-like demeanor that's working well.

Through the front nine, Woods birdied the second hole and bogeyed the fourth. After that, he made eight straight pars.

What Woods did on the par-5 13 was typical of his day. He could've gotten closer to the hole using a 5-wood but instead decided to lay up in the right corner, the safe move. He made birdie from there.

Would a pre-scandal Woods have been more aggressive? It's hard to say, but it certainly seems the current Woods is willing to be patient.

Woods broke out his sunglasses for the second round because of the extreme pollen count here that's caused Woods and just about everyone else to sneeze and wheeze. That's the only thing slowing Woods: pollen.

Not the bimbos. Not his judgment. Not tabloids or planes or copters buzzing around his home. Not even other golfers.

But pollen. Damn pollen.

And the way Woods is playing, even that might not stop him.