Greason: Woods is back and ready to compete
Elizabeth Greason | Thursday, December 8, 2016
He’s not better than ever, but he’s back and that’s what matters.
Tiger Woods’ return to golf was honestly significantly better than I expected. I had visions of a rusty Woods, making double bogeys left and right. I certainly was not expecting to see glimpses of the Tiger of old. I wasn’t rooting against him, I just genuinely didn’t think he would pull off anything resembling an impressive showing in his first event back, especially after the controversy surrounding his withdrawal from the Safeway Open in October and the immense pressure that would inevitably be on him after 17 months away from the game.
While his 72 holes saw their fair share of missed shots, I think Woods’ first outing in over a year and a half was a solid one. All four of his rounds, with the exception of the second, had their ups and downs. But Woods’ high points rivaled those of his opponents, although he struggled to keep hot streaks alive and to maintain a high quality of play throughout the tournament. But that’s something that will come more with time, as he gets back into the swing of playing in PGA Tour events again. But when you’re making highlight reels alongside Jordan Spieth and Hideki Matsuyama, not because of your name but because your shots are the same caliber as theirs, you’re doing something right.
While he may not be back in full force, Tiger is back. And I’m glad Tiger is back. Golf missed him. Golf needs him.
There is simply no one else who can draw interest or viewers like Tiger Woods can. This is even more true now. If Tiger had been unable to return, his career would have been unsatisfying. It would have left fans with a bad taste in their mouths. Having the man who was on track to be the greatest of all time go down to an injury would have been one of worst endings imaginable to one of the best careers anyone has or will ever have.
While I stand by what I said earlier in the year in that Woods should have played in the Safeway Open after committing to play, seeing Woods ready to go was fun. Seeing him smile again was fun. As Tiger’s former self-proclaimed biggest fan, I am glad to see him pain-free and playing golf well once again.
However, despite what I consider to be a fairly good showing in his return, I think Las Vegas has lost its mind in making Tiger’s odds to win the Masters in April 20-1. Woods will continue to make major improvements between now and then, but I can’t see how a man who finished four-under-par at an unofficial tour event in the Bahamas he hosted can suddenly become one of the favorites to take home a green jacket. There probably isn’t anyone still playing today who knows Augusta better than Tiger Woods.
But you can’t make mistakes at Augusta National if you’re going to be successful. And Tiger’s eight bogeys and six doubles at the Hero World Challenge certainly prove that the man has not yet regained his immunity to mistakes.
Tiger’s performance last weekend restored my faith that he has the ability to win another major and maybe even another green jacket this year, or at some point down the road if he can stay healthy. But I would not consider him a favorite until he proves his game is sustainable and that he can compete on a bigger stage in an event that matters. I don’t know if he will be able to catch Jack Nicklaus’ record at this point, but I won’t rule it out.
But I won’t get ahead of myself. For now, I’ll just say: “Welcome back, Tiger.”
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.