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When Will Tiger Woods Return to The PGA Tour

By: | Mon 17 Jan 2022

NOBODY in the history of golf has had more written and said about them than Tiger Woods. From 1996 until his personal downfall in 2009 it was all about his achievements on the course. Since then it has been about his seemingly never-ending battle for fitness, his operations and his comebacks.

And here we are in 2022, and little has changed. This time the speculation surrounds his rehabilitation following the horrific car crash in which he was involved almost 12 months ago. The man himself has said he will never again be able to complete a full PGA Tour schedule. He plans to pick and choose the events in which he plays. And he gave us a proper teaser at the PNC Championship in December where he played with his 12-year-old son Charlie and finished second. He required a buggy to get around the course in Florida but he proved, beyond doubt, that there is still plenty of life in the old dog.

He said afterwards that he is still nowhere near being tournament ready. But that hasn’t stopped continued speculation about when he will be back. Many golf fans are now expecting the 15-time major winner to return this year and potentially even win more tournaments and majors over the coming years. To be frank, that seems a long way off. 

And, it seems, everybody has an opinion.

Sky Sports analyst Simon Holmes believes that Woods' body will no longer be able to cope with the stresses and practice required to get back out on Tour. Holmes and presenter Rob Lee both think that Woods will be involved in the biggest story of the year. 

Lee predicts that not only will Woods be back, but that he will win another tournament. Holmes, on the other hand, expects him to retire.

Holmes, who has coached the likes of Seve Ballesteros, Nick Faldo and Bernhard Langer, predicts that 46-year-old Woods will retire in July at the 150th Open at St Andrews

“I really hope it doesn’t happen, but it’s something I think that could happen," he said. “Jack [Nicklaus] and Arnie [Palmer] did the same thing on the Swilken Bridge when they played in their last major and I can see Tiger thinking it would be a nice way to go out.”

Tiger Woods

John Cook, who is a close friend of Woods, recently told the Golf Channel that he believes Woods will not be ready for this year's majors. “I don’t see it in the next 12 months,” Cook said. “I just don’t think his body will be physically ready. He can’t train the way he’s going to want to train.” 

Woods won two Open Championships at St Andrews, in 2000 and 2005 and he said that he would "love" to tee it up at the 150th Open this summer. "I would love to play at St Andrews," he said. "It's my favourite golf course in the world. To be a two-time Open champion there, just being a part of the champions dinner is really neat.”

And two-time major winner Mark O’Meara, another close friend of Woods, stressed just how big a a step it was for Woods to return to competing even in an exhibition event such as the PNC but he expects to see his close friend again defy expectations by playing again.

"It's a big feat for him just to come back and play the PNC and who knows where he goes from here," O'Meara said. "But, knowing the competitive nature that burns inside Tiger, I wouldn't be surprised to see him play again on the PGA Tour.

"I think he's in a pretty good place. I hope and pray that's the case. I don't know if he comes back and plays like he has in the past after what happened in February, but you can never underestimate him. I know he's not a young man anymore, but every time everyone of us have thought 'well, maybe it's not going to happen', it does."

Another who expects Woods to be back in action sooner rather than later is Rob Lee. "Tiger is swinging the club really well; he just needs the body to move him around the golf course four times a week. I think we'll see him on the golf course at some point this year - it will be amazing."

Lee has previously drawn comparisons between Woods' return and that of another golfing icon, Ben Hogan, who also nearly had his career ended by a car accident in 1949 which left him with multiple broken bones and blood clots. Doctors told Hogan that he wouldn’t walk again, far less return to competitive golf. But four years later, he won The Masters, US Open and Open Championship.

Crucially, Hogan was,10 years younger than Woods at the time of his accident and had not previously endured all the operations that Woods has undergone in the past decade. 

Cook said: “Tiger has never been a 'show up' guy if his game isn't ready for prime time, but I see it happening at some point otherwise he wouldn't be testing a ball, shaping shots on the practice tee, working on a new driver that he likes. I think there's a motive to that."

It seems highly unlikely that he will be ready for The Masters. Augusta is an incredibly hilly course and one that would quickly find him out if he were anything less than 100% fit.

The last word goes to Woods. "I would love to play at St Andrews, there's no doubt about it," he said. "I would love to be able to play that Open Championship there is no doubt about it. Physically, hopefully, I can; I've got to get there first. The tournament isn't going to go anywhere, but I've got to get there [physically]."

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Tags: tiger woods PGA Tour FedEx Cup

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