Tiger Woods returns this week at Isleworth
Tiger Woods is back this week at his own tournament, the Hero World Challenge at Isleworth in Florida. The former world number one hasn’t been seen since he missed the cut at the PGA Championship a few months ago at Valhalla, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been in the news, as he recently hired Chris Como as his new swing coach after parting with Sean Foley and decided to go after writer Dan Jenkins for what he thought was an unfair “interview”.
So, what can we expect in Tiger’s latest return to professional golf? Let’s take a look.
So, is he healthy?
As usual, Tiger isn’t really saying anything, but you can bet that when he does his pre-tournament press conference later this week that he’ll say that he’s good to go and that he feels strong and explosive and whatever other words he can think of to prove that he’s doing just fine. Whether that’s actually true is anyone’s guess, especially considering that he declared himself fit ahead of Valhalla before admitting later that he probably shouldn’t have been out there in the first place.
It’s worth noting that Tiger turns 39 in a few weeks too. No matter what he tells himself, he isn’t Superman anymore.
Are we going to see anything from his work with Como?
Based on reports, Tiger’s been working with Como for about a month, so I’m not sure if that’s enough time to see anything significant, but we should see something different, even if it’s just slightly. Either way, it’s going to be analyzed to death.
UPDATE: TIGER WOODS SWINGS A GOLF CLUB!!!!
I’ll leave the Zapruder analysis to others.
What the hell is the Hero World Challenge?
Tiger has hosted this limited field, invitation only tournament every year since 1999 and it is now on its eighth different name/sponsor, as Hero Motorcorp is taking over this year from Northwestern Mutual. The tournament has also moved from Sherwood Country Club in California to Isleworth Golf and Country Club in Florida, where Tiger and a ton of other tour pros are members.
Who else is in the field?
As usual, Tiger has managed to assemble a very good field of established tour players:
|Keegan Bradley||Jason Day||Rickie Fowler|
|Billy Horschel||Zach Johnson||Chris Kirk|
|Matt Kuchar||Hunter Mahan||Hideki Matsuyama|
|Graeme McDowell||Patrick Reed||Justin Rose|
|Jordan Spieth||Henrik Stenson||Steve Stricker|
|Jimmy Walker||Bubba Watson||Tiger Woods|
Yes, even though he’s in the field, the tournament was not named after Patrick Reed.
So, do you think he’s ready to go?
I’d like to think that he’s good to go at this point considering that he’s had nearly three months off, but it’s impossible to say, especially when you realize that the last time he came back, he ended up re-injuring himself and in reality, not playing all that well. Truth be told, I doubt that he even knows himself if he’s ready, but we all know that he’s always preparing for the majors, so getting four relatively low stress rounds in when there’s still five months to go before Augusta is probably a good thing.
How should we expect him to play?
Whenever he tees it up somewhere, Tiger expects to not only contend, but to win, and hey, he’s got a 1-in-18 chance of doing it this week. Depending on the book you use, Tiger is listed as either the 9th or 10th favourite in the field this week at anywhere from 12 to 20-1, but it’s obviously very difficult to envision a scenario in which he beats a quality field of players who have all been playing, save for Steve Stricker. You should expect him to be wildly inconsistent with the shots he hits and finish near the bottom of the pack, even if he doesn’t expect to do that himself.
When can we expect to see him after this?
He used to make his PGA Tour season debut at Torrey Pines in February, but he’s got nothing confirmed as of right now, so we don’t actually know right now. Assuming he doesn’t hurt himself further, I have no reason to believe that he won’t be teeing it up at his usual places, which would mean Torrey, Doral, Bay Hill and Augusta.
What does this mean for golf and the PGA Tour?
The game has changed, and just like it’s done with every other great player, it’s starting to pass Tiger by as well. I fully believe that he’s going to be fine and that he’s got at least one more run left in him, but he needs to stay healthy and despite all of the criticism and analysis that gets thrown on him daily, the one thing that everyone seems to forget is that the last time he was healthy, he won five times on the PGA Tour. He still moves the needle more than any other player in the game. I mean, you don’t see me posting these pieces when other players return from an injury, right? With that said, even though the needle still moves more for him than anyone else, it’s not moving as fast as it once did.
The next twelve months are big for golf, the PGA Tour and Tiger, and it all starts this week at Isleworth.
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