Roaring Again – is Tiger Back?

This season Tiger Woods’ rapid return to form has been a surprise to the golfing world. However, the question remains, is arguably the greatest golfer of all time back to his best?

There are very few who would dispute that Woods, in his prime, was the up there with the best in the sport. Before his personal troubles and countless knee and back surgeries, Woods was on track to surpass Jack Nicklaus’ 18 major wins.

His return to form in the 2018 season proved the doubters wrong. Butch Harmon, Sky Sports Golf pundit and Tiger’s ex-coach is surprised at the level of his performance after his break from the sport, saying: “A lot of us were not sure whether Woods would ever play golf again.”

Woods recorded an extremely impressive 80th win at the season-ending Tour Championship amongst a fiercely competitive field and was well in contention for the Open and PGA Championship. Harmon believes his Tour Championship win was nothing short of remarkable.

“For me, this is the most amazing win he has ever had because of where he came from. He had literally no idea whether he would play again and then he came back he wasn’t sure how he was going to play,” he said.

There are those who feel Woods’ win at Eastlake was commendable but not the remarkable comeback that some writers are suggesting. Steve Carroll, Golf Writer for NCGmagazine, said:

“Without denigrating in any way, the achievement of returning from a fused spine, even the most cursory look at sporting highlights of yesteryear find all manner of remarkable stories that surpass woods struggles.”

Carroll feels a major will really cement Wood’s comeback. She said: “Winning the Tour Championship is a fantastic achievement, but let’s see a major or two before we can truly place Woods’ return as a great comeback.”

There have been some significant Improvements to Woods’ game. His short game and scrambling have never been in doubt. Tiger was first in the field for scrambling at the Tour Championship (17 for 24) and First in the field in one-putt percentage (51%). However, the big surprise is since adding extra loft and changing the shaft of his driver, his driving has become one of his greatest assets.

Woods himself feels that he has a lower risk approach to his driving now. He said: “The neat thing about my driving at the minute is the spinners stay in play instead of chasing off on me. If I hit controlled shots, they’re in play and they’re shorter”

It’s hard to compare Woods of yesteryear to many players. Nicklaus, Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer along with Woods himself cannot be compared to many in the game. If Tiger can find his very best form we witnessed in the early 2000s, the 2019 season could well be Tiger’s year.

 

By Sam Stone

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