If you haven’t already heard the most polarizing figure in the golf world has returned. Tiger Woods made his return to the course this past week in his first tournament since having major back surgery last year. Initial thoughts I believe from most watching are mildly impressed. He finished eight under in a star-studded field at the Hero World Challenge. The field consisted of the likes of Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler and many more high-ranking golfers from a year ago.
A Good Start
Tiger hopped out to a great start at the Hero World Challenge In Round One, he finished with a 69 in a round that included five birdies with two bogeys. The bogeys came on the Par 5 Ninth Hole and the Par 5 Fifteenth. In Round Two, he started off hot with three birdies and an eagle on the front 9 for a 31. On the back side, Woods had just one birdie and two bogeys to finish the day with a 68 on the card. Woods seemed to be firing on all cylinders, at least for a 42-year old that hasn’t played competitive golf in a long time. Tiger entered the weekend at seven under trying to make a run up the leaderboard in his first appearance.
3rd Round Hiccups
Every golf fan knows when the weekend comes around the pin placement is tougher, approach shots get tougher and the wind seems to blow a little harder. To begin the third round, Woods had four bogeys on the front carding a 40. After bogeying the tenth, he was able to net two birdies to finish out the round with a 75. For some this was the Tiger they were expecting to see, flopping shots all over the fairway, hitting approach shots onto the beach and missing give-me putts. After watching Round Four I’m going to say he was just shaking off some rust.
An Eventful 4th day
Woods came out hot to start Round Four. He had three birdies and an eagle on the front side to shoot a 31. Going into the back nine, there was a chance for Tiger to earn a top 5 finish. Then Woods double-bogeyed Ten. He followed with three birdies in the next five holes but rounded out with two bogeys on Seventeen and Eighteen. Woods finished the round with a 68 and finished ninth in the eighteen-man field.
The Hero World Challange leaves Tiger fans wanting more after putting on a good showing outside of Round Three. Did he have a realistic shot to win this tournament? Probably not, ask Ricky Fowler about his front side 28, capped off with a final round of 61 to win the tournament. Nevertheless, tying for ninth in a star-studded field leaves the question can of if he can come back and compete with the young guns in the game now.
Let’s look at some stats from Tiger’s weekend. In particular, Woods’ ball striking. He finished with a 65.4% driving accuracy. As for greens in regulation, he ended up with 63.9%. When it came to putting, he finished middle of the pack at 10th in putts per green in regulation. The stat that I believe can be used as a positive spin is that he was third in bogeys or worse. If he rids himself of some of the errant shots and rust from not playing competitively, fans can be optimistically hopeful that he can make a run at some tournaments in the future.
The key question for anyone interested in Tiger Woods is whether or not this type of performance is sustainable? The early indications after watching him play this past week are yes. He looks healthy, he looks like he is having fun, and lastly, he looks like he has missed golf. One thing you can count on if he gets back into the mix, nobody in the field wants to see Tiger in red and black come Sunday. The truth is, it’s too early to tell if Tiger is really back, but after this week it can’t help but make one wonder.