By: Ed Travis
It’s been a couple of weeks, since we witnessed Tiger Wood’s competitive comeback at the Hero World Challenge, but a few comments seem appropriate.
First of all, those of you looking to break into broadcasting should listen to the gushing commentary by some of the Golf Channel and NBC personalities as a lesson of, what not to do. At times it sounded as if the Hero World Challenge was a major championship rather than a silly season affair with marginally more significance than your Saturday morning four ball.
Just because Woods is playing again doesn’t mean he will contend, much less win, but a good deal of the on-air commentary would have you believe, that was the case.
Most of the story for the event was about Woods, his return and the state of his game. Understandable of course, but it meant there was less airtime available for others in the field that included, not only world number one, Dustin Johnson, plus eight of the top 10, as well as, 16 of the top 30 in the Official World Golf Rankings (OWGR).
Even though Rickie Fowler won with an impressive fourth-round charge, the TV cameras always have a “Tiger bias,” even though he was not in contention on the final day.
Speaking of the world rankings, how can an 18-man exhibition warrant OWGR points? Woods, who started the week at number No. 1,199 in the world, finished in tie for ninth place, yet still earned enough points to move into a tie for No. 668.
With the rant over, the question becomes, what did we see and what can we reasonably surmise from his 72 holes in the Bahamas?
Woods looked healthy and in interviews seemed to have a positive attitude. With his main career goal to surpass Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major championship titles, Woods reinforced his focus is set on earning the five additional victories.
Next season, as a 42-year-old with a history of multiple injuries and surgeries, we will be watching to see if his body holds up. His schedule must be a balance of adequately preparing for the four major championships, plus completing the “reps” necessary to hone his mental skills.
His full swing looks good enough to win on Tour, but of course majors are another thing altogether.
Bobby Jones said it best,
“There’s golf and then there is tournament golf.”
Even detractors and skeptics of Woods must concede this first outing was positive. He exhibited flashes of the winning form, we have seen for 20 years.
When he was in his prime, Woods short game was the best in the world. In the Hero World Challenge, he exhibited moments of adequacy, but his overall game is not yet at the level necessary to win PGA Tour events, especially major championships.
Putting this in perspective, it is good to see one of the greatest players to ever play the game back in competitive action. The game needs him, if for no other reason, to test the mettle of Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler and Rory McIlroy. Let’s not get carried away, but let’s hope he can do it, which leaves the most relevant and unanswered question,
Will he be the Tiger Woods of old, or just an “old” Tiger Woods?