As you read this, the greatest golfer of our times, Tiger Eldrick Woods, will be teeing it up for round two of the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas. Woods has been away from competitive golf for over 10 months, having last appeared, albeit briefly, at the Dubai Desert Classic.
Since then he has undergone a fourth back surgery and although he has been declared fit, it is anyone’s guess just how this comeback will pan out.
That Woods has chosen this event to reintroduce himself to the world is no coincidence, this is an event he hosts and it features only 18 of the top ranked professionals. Proceeds from the event go towards the Tiger Woods Foundation. Woods has won at this event a record five times, with his last victory coming in 2011 when he beat Zach Johnson by a single stroke.
Johnson returned the favour in 2013 beating Woods in a playoff. The defending champion is Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama who is in the field this week alongside Rickie Fowler, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Matt Kuchar, Jordan Spieth, Henrik Stenson, Justin Thomas, Alex Noren, Francesco Molinari, Patrick Reed, Kevin Kisner, Charley Hoffman, Kevin Chappell, Tommy Fleetwood and Daniel Berger.
Speaking to the media a few days ago, Woods declared that he was for the first time in a long while “truly pain-free”. However, the golf world is skeptical of his return.
You see, Woods has been back from injuries before and each return was marked with another set back. indeed he has been making a comeback since his last Major win in 2008.
Will Tiger Woods pounce back at Hero Challenge?
In that year, Woods finished second at the Masters, underwent a knee surgery and recovered enough to beat Rocco Mediate at the US Open in an epic 20-hole playoff. After the victory, Woods went on to have another knee surgery and as a consequence missed almost a full year of competition.
Nevertheless, his 2009 return was commendable, winning six times through the year.
The next few years have been a tale of injuries and disappointments. In 2011 he suffered another knee and Achilles strain and in 2014 he had the first of four back surgeries.
In 2015 he made another comeback, finished T17 at the Masters but missed cuts at the US Open, The Open and PGA Championship — this wasn’t the Woods we once knew.
In 2017 Woods missed the cut for the Farmers Insurance Open and withdrew from the Dubai Desert Classic with back injury. He also announced that he would not play in the 2017 Masters because he was not “tournament ready”.
In April 2017 Woods underwent a fourth back operation which demanded a six-month recovery time, ruling out any more golf in 2017 — until now!
In between the surgeries, Woods found time to get arrested for driving under the influence. Turned out Woods was loaded with a cocktail of prescription painkillers and sleeping aids. A plea deal later and Woods avoiding spending time in jail.
How will Woods perform on this latest comeback? He has been sharing swing videos on his practice rounds over the last few months.
At first all he shared were clips of himself putting and chipping but slowly he progressed to hitting drivers, much to the delight of his fans. In November, Rickie Fowler said that Woods was hitting it “way by” him in practice rounds.
A good sign that Woods was back to form.
This weekend, I will be glued to action at the Hero World Challenge and I will be praying for Woods to demonstrate that he is truly back!