The first weekend in December we saw Tiger Woods play his first competitive rounds of golf in nearly 16 months. The Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas was an important tournament for Tiger, who has not been on the tour since August of 2015. It was important for him to play and finish all rounds, and that’s exactly what he did. He had some good rounds and some bad rounds. His Friday round was a 7 under 65 and the Sunday round ended with a 76 including 3 double bogeys with 2 out of the three on Par 5’s. Tiger finished the tournament in 15th place, which might not sound bad, but that’s out of 18 players. Here’s what we took away from Tiger’s first competitive rounds in over a year.
- He looks healthy. Tiger is turning 41 the end of the month and for a man who has had 3 back surgeries, you can bet that he has had lots of rehab work and strengthening prior to feeling ready to return to the golf tournament stage. In the test of the golfing week, we feel like he pulled through, not looking like the Tiger Woods of the past, but given his injury – he’s looking pretty darn good.
- He adjusted to the rounds quickly. Normally, Tiger is slow to get into the rounds, requiring a number of holes to get into his flow – this has been a problem in his past comebacks after a long layoff. This seemed to be a thing of the past as he was able to birdie the first hole – twice.
- He still has shot making ability and power. He out-drove Rickie Fowler and Patrick Reed and his touch on his chip shots seemed inconsistent, but it’s still there. He still gauged the speed of his putts exceptionally well and even drained a couple 20-25 footers over the weekend.
- He’s still Tiger Woods – which means that his presence at the tournament brought out the media and national interest to the game of golf. Even the players seemed to enjoy the fact that Tiger was once again in the mix.
- He’s changed what is expected of himself. He had plenty of good shots and plenty of learning shots. There are plenty of things for him to work on, but ultimately he made it through the rounds and did pretty good for his first event back. Naturally, being Tiger he’ll set loftier goals in the near future, aiming for a win sometime soon.
Will Tiger be in contention for a win in 2017? We don’t know – even Tiger doesn’t know. We’ll simply have to wait and see – some say he’s back and some say he’ll never be the same. Perhaps both are right.