Tiger Woods Comeback - Half-Term Report
SIX MONTHS into his comeback, just what are we to make of the progress made by Tiger Woods? It is heart-warming to see him back in action again, hitting the ball freely and without any discomfort - most important of all, it is good to see him enjoying himself on a golf course, possibly for the first time in his storied career.
Make no mistake, Woods knows that at 42 years of age, he has been given a second chance, and he seems determined to take it.
After the Quicken Loans he had played in 11 tournaments and, on the face of it, his record makes for some pretty encouraging reading. He has only missed two cuts, although one of those came at the US Open, when he faced the severest of tests and was found to be wanting, especially on the greens.
Woods being Woods, he immediately addressed the issue and abandoned the putter that has served him so well throughout his career, turning to a mallet-style putter for the first time in his life. And the immediate signs were encouraging. He had developed a worrying habit of missing short putts, but at TPC Potomac they started dropping again.
However, Potomac and a US Open are two very different challenges. And Woods will know that.
He finished 12th at the Honda Classic, tied for second at the Valspar and tied for fifth at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. It meant that he headed to Augusta for The Masters as one of the tournament favourites and although he managed to play all four rounds, his scores of 73, 75, 72 and 69 meant that he could only finish in a tie for 32nd place.
His next outing came at the Wells Fargo Championship at the notoriously difficult Quail Hollow and once again he struggled to make an impact, finishing 55th.
Then came The Players Championship, where a last-round charge faltered at the 17th and he could only manage a tie for 11th. This was followed by a tie for 22nd at The Memorial and that missed cut at the US Open.
But back he came at the Quicken Loans. He opened with an average round of 70 but then fought his way back into contention with a second round of 65. And just when it looked like he was going to make one of his famous charges in round three, having started with a flurry of birdies, a series of mistakes meant that he could only score a 68. He closed out the week with a 66 and eventually finished in a tie for fourth place, but he was miles behind winner Francesco Molinari.
So he is still looking for that elusive first victory. On the other hand, his world ranking has now risen to 67th, he is 47th in the FedEx Cup standings and he has earned almost $2m in prize money. And he will surely earn a a Ryder Cup wild-card pick from Jim Furyk.
“I would love to commit to a full schedule,” Woods says. “But I know that I have to manage my body now and look after my back. I am just thankful to be out here playing again.”
Amen to that, Tiger!
Temperamanet - he is loving being out there again 10/10
Putting - started the season off brilliantly but has shown some fallibility of late 6/10
Driving - he is hitting the ball further than he did in his prime, but misses too many fairways. He is 178th in driving accuracy 5/10
Chipping - there were serious concerns about his short game but he has silenced all the doubters 9/10
Long irons - as good as ever 8/10
Wedges - incredibly inconsistent. He is either totally dialled in or clears greens by 20 yards 7/10
Prospects for victory - it is only a matter of time 10/10
Overall rating - could do better, but not much 9/10
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