Tiger Woods is set to make another try at returning to competitive tournament golf as he has announced he will play at the tournament he hosts, The Hero World Challenge at Albany in the Bahamas, December 1-4. The Hero Challenge is a bit of an exemption, as he is the host, he will make his return here as some of the pressure will be off. From all reports, his long game is still great, but his short game and chipping seems to be the area that is letting him down and giving him enough angst to delay his return so far. If Patrick Reed is one to believe, Tiger is hitting it long off the tee.
It will be a healthy kick for his charity, The Tiger Woods Foundation, as tickets will most likely sell out and the tournament will get much more exposure than normal. A smart move by Tiger to maximise the return. The field will be star studded with names like Johnson, Speith, Reed, Fleetwood, Fowler, Matsuyama, Thomas, Rose and Stenson all playing alongside Tiger.
It has been a while since Tiger Woods has played tournament golf. The final round of the Wyndham Championship, where he shot 70, was the last competitive round of golf he played. That was August 2015. Woods has had to endure 3 back surgeries and a ton of speculation since and even though he returned at last years Hero World Challenge, it was not a great return. He made the most birdies in the field, but also the most doubles and finished -4.
He has made no secret of the fact that he still hungers for Jack Nicklaus’s record of 18 majors. Jack himself has wished him well on his quest to get there, but at the same time, I hear a lot of negative talk surrounding Tiger. “He’s finished!”, “He can’t chip anymore”, “He’ll never catch Jack” are all the things you hear said about Woods, but I firmly believe, you can never write off a champion.
There were few that could compare with Tiger’s hunger for wins during his glory days. So few in fact that the professional golfing ranks seemed scared by his presence in any tournament they were playing in. Through many interviews pro’s would often say “It all depends what Tiger shoots out there.” Nothing could be more accurate. The tournaments were Tigers to take.
The domination of Tiger Woods has not been seen in recent times by any other golfer. He spent 264 weeks as world number 1 when he was only 24 years old. Another 281 weeks when he was 30-35 years old. That is a decade of domination. Although you would say that today’s golfers like Rory McIlroy, Jordan Speith and Jason Day are very successful, the combined total of weeks spent as world number 1 from these 3 gentlemen is only 157. You would have to add in Greg Norman(331), Seve Ballesteros(61), Sir Nick Faldo(97) and Luke Donald’s(56) totals together to get in front. Woods has spent 683 weeks as world number one. That’s over 13 years.
That sort of determination does not just go away in people. Yes, his game has suffered and he is not what he once was. Yes, it may take some time for him to get his game and confidence back together. Yes, he may miss more than a few cuts, but if he gets the sniff of a win. If he is in contention going into day 4 of a tournament and wins, he may just get on another roll that will leave us all in awe once again. I know there are many who do not like Tiger. They say he's arrogant and of course his infidelities have been well documented. Personally, I think what he does off the field shouldn't matter and the fact that he is cocky is only a good thing for his confidence. That is the place where Tiger will have to now improve. The war between his ears must be fought and won again if he is to set the recoed.
Imagine the new duels between the current top 10 and Tiger going into majors when Tiger is fit. The game of golf has experienced great rises in popularity off the form of the current young players in the game. The social media aspect of things has pushed boundaries to places we never thought possible years ago. Imagine how great the game will be if Tiger gets back to chase Jack’s record again. I, for one, hope to see that record broken or at least tied. Don’t get me wrong, I have met Jack Nicklaus and shaken his hand, but the record books should show the dominance of Tiger Woods by the end of his career and if that is measured by majors, I hope he gets 4 more.