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Tiger is Coming Back and Write Him Off at Your Peril

By: Golfshake Editor | Thu 08 Sep 2016

Post by Sports Writer Derek Clements

IT IS hardly surprising that we are all excited about the announced return to action of Tiger Woods, the 14-time major champion who hasn't been seen playing competitive golf for more than 12 months.

For one thing, you can be certain that Woods would not consider returning to the PGA Tour unless he was convinced that his body will stand up to the strain - and that can only be good news. In his absence, Jason Day and Jordan Spieth have dominated the game, while Dustin Johnson has finally landed his first major. But with all due respect to Day, Spieth and Johnson, none has the appeal or drawing power of Tiger Woods. The only man who comes close is Rory McIlroy. You doubt it? Check out the reaction of the American gallery at the Deutsche Bank Championship, who treated him like one of their own when he rediscovered his form to win at TPC Boston.

You still doubt it? Check out the American media coverage of McIlroy's victory, his first in the United States for 15 months. They couldn't get enough of him. 

Day is rightly the world number one, but when it comes to magnetism, he doesn't come close to Woods and McIlroy. And here's the thing - people can empathise with the injury hell that Woods has been through because so many of them have suffered problems with bad backs, creaking knee joints and the like.

You may question the timing of his announcement that he is ready to come back. It means that, without question, he will be the centre of media attention at the Ryder Cup, where he is one of Davis Love's vice-captains. There are some who may feel that he has been selfish. Love will not be one of them. If the media are chasing Woods for quotes and seeking to outdo one another to land the best Woods story, it can only mean that the American team will not be in the spotlight in the days leading up to the action in Hazeltine. They will be free to practice, play and work out their best pairings.

And if Woods can buy into the team ethic and get behind and involved in an American victory, how much good do you think it will do for his PR? He will be a hero.

There is also the small matter of the Safeway Open, staged from October 13 to 16. It is the first event of the 2016-17 PGA Tour season and it would normally attract average crowds. How delighted do you think Safeway were when they were told that Woods would be playing in their tournament? He will go into that event with optimism and confidence - a new season, a new start. And there will not be a spare ticket to be had.

Now let's make something clear. Tiger Woods is 40 years old and has been on the sidelines for more than a year. It would be ludicrous to imagine that he will bowl up and win straight away. But just imagine if he does. Ben Hogan was 38 years old when he returned to the PGA Tour after the car crash in which he nearly died. In 1953, at the age of 41, he won The Masters, the US Open and The Open. The pundits and his rivals had written him off, much as they have Woods.

Phil Mickelson is 46 - he was just short of his 40th birthday when he won The Masters in 2010, was 43 when he finished second at the US Open and then went on to win The Open, and only this summer played his part in what was arguably the greatest Open we have ever witnessed, finishing second to Henrik Stenson. And how old is Stenson? 40.

Tiger is a one-off. Nobody really expects him to come back and start winning run-of-the-mill tournaments, far less majors, but if anybody can, he can. And one thing is absolutely certain - golf needs Tiger Woods, and it needs him contending again. It is also fairly safe to assume that we will see a very different Woods this time around - he thought his career was over and now, having been what probably amounts to a final chance, he is likely to be playing the game with a smile on his face. This time around, he will ensure that he smells the flowers, that he spends time signing autographs for young fans.

Maybe, just maybe, we could see him adding to his tally of 14 majors. And how good would that be?


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Tags: tiger woods tiger rory mcilroy PGA Tour

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