Out of the Woods: Tiger is back swinging
THERE are other tournaments going on around the world this weekend but the one that will receive the most attention is the Hero World Challenge, being played at the Albany Golf Course in the Bahamas.
It’s not because some of the game’s biggest names are teeing it up, among them Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Henrik Stenson, Bubba Watson, Ricky Fowler and Louis Oosthuizen, but because one of the greatest players ever will make his return to competitive golf after a lengthy absence. Yes, Tiger Woods is back. The tournament host, who actually started this year-end event in 1999, will be part of the elite 14-man field.
Woods, the one-time undisputed champion of the game and winner of 14 Majors, hasn’t played a competitive round since the Wyndham Championship all of 16 months ago. He finished tied for 10th then, four shots behind winner Davis Love III.
Following the Wyndham Championship in August, Woods opted to have surgery on his back and while he planned to return to the game at the beginning of this year, setback followed setback. He was then set to play at the 2016/17 opening tournament on the PGA Tour, the Safeway Open, a few weeks ago, but withdraw on the eve of the tournament, stating he was not yet ready for competitive golf.
“They’re going to try and beat me. I want to beat them too,” Woods told the BBC in the Bahamas before going out yesterday in round one alongside Ryder Cup star Patrick Reed. “If I enter an event, I’m going to try and win the thing. I know that’s a tall order but the mindset is still there.”
The 40-year-old, who’s won 79 titles on the PGA Tour alone, said the time out of the game tested his patience on many different levels.
“To get back out here at this level has been a challenge ... it’s taken a lot of hard work and an inordinate amount of patience, which is not one of my hallmarks.
“But it’s allowed me to get to this point where I am able to compete and play again. I haven’t had adrenaline in my system for a while. As of right now, I’m ready to go.”
Woods will be desperate to find a competitive edge once again. He will also be praying his back holds up to tournament golf, but one thing is certain, the golf watching fraternity and the players around him are happy he’s back.
If Woods features this weekend and plays well against some of the game’s current top dogs, expect him to be even more determined and fired up in the new year. And who knows, perhaps he’ll still challenge Jack Nicklaus’ haul of Major titles.