Tiger Woods made his return to competitive golf this week after nearly 16 months off at his Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas, and the result was a mixed bag, both literally and figuratively.
With Nike out of the hard goods game, Tiger showed up at Albany with some TaylorMade woods and driver, Nike irons, his old Scotty Cameron putter that he won 13 of his 14 majors with, and a Bridgestone ball. His hodgepodge bag was matched by his hodgepodge game on the course.
After taking over a year off, nobody was expecting Tiger to come out and lap the field like he had so much during his prime. In fact, after his attempted comeback in 2015, there were plenty who were skeptical if he would even be able to play 72 holes, and if so, if he would show up with any sort of game. What we were treated to over the past four days was a combination of signs of the old Tiger and a 40 year old golfer coming off two back surgeries who hadn’t played golf in over a year.
Tiger sent the Twitter golf world into a frenzy on Thursday when he birdied four of his opening eight holes, including three in a row, and held a share of the early lead. That was the vintage Tiger. The back nine was a different story. Showing his rust and mental fatigue he double bogeyed 16 and 18 to limp home with a 1-over 73 on the day.
Thursday was a large indication of the roller coaster week that was ahead. There were signs of the Tiger of old: The bogey free 65 on Friday, the stretch of three straight birdies to open the third round Saturday and to make the turn on Sunday, the sharpness of the short game, and some magic with the putter. There were also plenty of signs that he was shaking off the rough, like the fact that he double bogeyed 18 every day but Friday when he went bogey free.
“I haven’t played; I need to play more tournaments. Zero in 15 months is not a lot. So this is one,” Woods said when evaluating his week after his final round Sunday. “I thought I made some good, positive things happen this week. Made a lot of birdies, also made a lot of mistakes. Those, most of those mistakes I can clean up. I know they’re silly mistakes.”
Tiger certainly made plenty of birdies on the week, 24 to be exact. In fact he lead the field in birdies. Once again, Tiger of old. However, he matched those 24 birdies with 14 bogeys or worse, also most in the field.
Take away all the bogeys for a minute. Take away all the birdies too and what you have might just be the most important thing to take away from Tiger’s return. Woods played 72 holes in competition, plus the pro-am and his practice day 100% pain free. At the end of the day, after all the surgeries and press conferences and reports that Tiger could barely walk at times, that’s the biggest indicator that, while Tiger might never be that dominating force that he once was, he’s also not done either.
1,561 total views, 4 views today