TOP 30 PLAYERS TO WATCH
No. 30: Tiger Woods
We haven’t seen much of him the last few seasons, but hopefully 2018 will be the year Tiger returns to full-time action
December 01, 2017
By Staff, PGATOUR.COM
Top 10 Tiger Woods shots on TOUR (non-majors)
By Cameron Morfit, PGATOUR.COM
Four back surgeries since March 2014 and one PGA TOUR start over the last two seasons.
The line on Tiger Woods has been less than promising of late, but he can’t be done at age 41, can he? (He’ll turn 42 on Dec. 30.) Pat Perez is his age and seems to be just hitting his prime, with victories at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba and CIMB Classic in a span of less than 12 months. Ryan Armour, who lost to Woods in extra holes at the 1993 U.S. Junior Amateur, is Woods’ age and won for the first time on TOUR at the recent Sanderson Farms Championship. Now here comes Woods, again, making a comeback, again, at the Hero World Challenge.
“I hope he can come out and give us his best,” Armour said recently, speaking for many. “His best may not be his 2002 best, but I hope he comes out and competes. I hope he wins again.”
TOP 30 PLAYERS TO WATCH IN 2018
When Woods won the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines at 32, there was no indication that it would be the last of his 14 major championship victories. When he won the 2013 World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational, his fifth win that season, there was no indication that it would be his last of 79 TOUR wins. There’s a gnawing sense of incompletion to his career.
At the Presidents Cup at Liberty National, where he was an assistant to U.S. Captain Steve Stricker, Woods said he wants to play again. The Hero will begin to reveal whether that’s possible. Past comebacks have fizzled. Returning at last year’s Hero, Woods led the field in birdies, finishing 15th of 17 players who finished all four rounds. He seemed to have gotten his speed back. He looked good.
Alas, he missed the cut at the Farmers Insurance Open the next month, withdrew from the Dubai Desert Classic a week later, pulled out of his next two scheduled starts, and had fusion surgery in April. Not so good.
So here we are again. Will this comeback last? Will it even be a comeback? The prospect of Woods returning to some recognizable version of his old self is too tantalizing to dismiss out of hand. What would happen if a reinvigorated Woods ran into Jordan Spieth or Justin Thomas?
Worlds would collide.
“I want to see him stare down a few of these young guys so they can experience what it’s like when the hairs stand up on the back of your neck or when he’s the guy you have to chase,” Rod Pampling said from the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in Las Vegas. “They’ve seen his dominance as kids, but they’ve never felt it.”
We’ve seen it. We’ve felt it. We’ll keep watching for an indication of whether we might again.
BY THE NUMBERS
How Tiger Woods ranked in Strokes Gained statistics during his last full season on the PGA TOUR.
Current 2017-18 position: N/A
Playoff appearances: 5 (also qualified but did not play in 2008)
Best result: Won twice (2007, 2009). Woods is the only two-time winner of the FedExCup.
INSIGHTS FROM OUR INSIDERS
TOUR INSIDER by Ben Everill
You can’t help but want to watch this man. Deep down we know his best days are past him but here’s the thing -- he doesn’t need to be near his best to be better than a lot of other players. Tiger Woods at 75percent his best is still good enough to win on TOUR multiple times. At 50 percent, he could contend and even win somewhere. But the big question mark is will he remain healthy enough to even get half as good as he used to be? The 79-time PGA TOUR winner says he has the desire to play regularly again. Whatever form that takes, I for one am looking forward to it. Call it hope, call it nostalgia, call it what you like -- Woods is always worth watching.
EQUIPMENT INSIDER by Jonathan Wall
Making his long-awaited return at the Hero World Challenge, Woods is without question the biggest equipment storyline. He's also the biggest question mark. Woods signed with TaylorMade at the beginning of 2017, but his bag setup is still unclear. He was spotted at a charity event with a set of Nike VR Pro Blade blanks that featured his "TGR" logo stamped on each head, along with a mixture TaylorMade clubs, but that likely won't be his setup for competition.
FANTASY INSIDER by ROB BOLTON
If you were curious how much action he's attracting, consider that I haven't written or tweeted how to act on his imminent return to competition, and I've received zero inquiries. He also remains a free agent in my season-long private league in which we go 160 deep. There's simply no interest until he hangs up a result. Even if he generates a whiff of hope, contending teams won't need to reach.
STYLE INSIDER by Greg Monteforte
Tiger has always blended classic styles with the latest high tech fabrics. Expect more of the same in 2018 with some jacquard striped polos in conservative whites, blacks, blues, and reds. There is no word from Nike on a 2018 shoe for Tiger, so expect him to roll into the New Year with the TW’17, a shoe with a dual strap system designed to keep his feet more secure and locked down.