Normally the news that the world’s ranked number 1180 is returning to competition wouldn’t be of interest to many people. However when that golfer is Tiger Woods then the ensuing furor is understandable.
He has tweeted that he will return to competitive golf at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas starting on the 30th November. Location wise it’s a perfect choice and with only 18 players in the field it wont be too taxing. He did play in this event in 2016 when he finished 15th out of 17 players but made more birdies than anyone else that week to look like he might be coming back to something like reasonable form. However then he had to have more back surgery in April and we haven’t seen him play since.
Tiger has been teasing us with videos of his swing since his latest round of surgery on his fragile back. He started by showing us his swing on a few short shots and last week we got pictures of him hitting his famous stinger shot with a driver. The general consensus amongst the experts was that his swing looked good, possibly less powerful but solidly on plane and less likely to have a detrimental effect on his back.
As we all know having the perfect golf swing doesn’t mean that you will win multiple tournaments otherwise Adam Scott would never be out of the winners circle. Tiger has had at least 4 different methods of playing since he burst on the scene as he has moved from one teacher to another but it was his short game and in particular his putting that made him the worlds best. He was never known for his accuracy off the tee but had enough power to reduce most courses to a manageable length and even had Augusta lengthen the course to make it Tiger proof. Wherever he hit off the tee you could count on him getting out of trouble by good short game play and exceptional putting.
We have seen it over the years that even the world’s best can lose their ability to get the ball in the hole as they get older. Ben Hogan certainly one of the greatest players of all time was a gibbering wreck on the greens toward the end of his career. Sam Snead tried every possible method of putting to get the ball into the hole as his career wound down. They were both such great ball strikers that they could still beat the opposition despite this and the big question will be can Tiger recover his amazing ability to hole out. On his last time on the golf course it did look as though that this was the area that had left him as he seemed to have the chipping yips.
Golf could do with Tiger back to compete with the new young guns who have started to dominate world golf. To see a leader board with his name among Speith, Thomas, Johnson and McIlroy playing the last 9 holes of a major tournament would boost television audiences worldwide and can only be good for the game. Will it happen? Unfortunately probably not but it will be fascinating to see what happens in the New year.