Ladies and Gentlemen. This is the 1205 tee time. On the tee, from Windemere, Florida. 14 time major champion, 11 time PGA Tour player of the year, 2 time FedEx Cup champion, and winner of 79 PGA Tour events including 18 World Golf Championships. Tiger Woods (cue massive cheers, claps and Americans shouting random, generally food related words).
Finally, after what seems like an eternity, he’s back.
And from the sounds of it, he could be stronger than ever before. I know we’ve been through all this before, but previously it’s always seemed rushed. He’s always been one for pushing himself, and maybe a bit of naivety has meant each time he’s taken two steps forward and one back. But FINALLY he seems to be in a good place. Of course there’s only going to be one place to prove it, and that’s in the pressure of putting together 4 rounds with the whole world watching.
There will of course be the sceptics out there. Even around the Bunker Office, certain members of the team who shall remain anonymous (for now) are trying to work out why there’s such hype. “He’s going to take up all of the TV coverage once again, probably withdraw after the first round”. A large portion of the golfing community will agree, mumbling about Tiger being back isn’t that big of a deal, we’ve been through it before. The last time when he was supposedly fighting fit, his overall game was that far off the pace that it was almost embarrassing. Finally it seemed like Tiger was a mere mortal. His movements looked so restricted; his short game was no better than what you’d find at your local club. Quickly people started to doubt whether they’d ever see Tiger even compete again. His demise was not exactly helped by the emergence of the new breed of golfer. All of a sudden Tiger wasn’t the longest hitter on Tour – these youngsters were leaner, fitter and stronger than him. His short game was no longer up there with the likes of Jordan Spieth. However, without Tiger, these guys wouldn’t be where they are today. They’ve followed the mould set by Tiger.
Personally, as the biggest Tiger Woods fanboy in the Bunker Office, I feel like Christmas has come early this year. I cannot wait to see him tee it back up; for me he is a golfing God. Just his approach to the game, his undeniable talent and his general passion for success will always overshadow any indiscretions in his personal life. He is the one person that everyone in the world knows about, whether they’re a golfer or not. The amount of pressure he’s had to deal with week in and week out since first picking up a golf club must have been unbearable, yet he thrived on it and it made him the unstoppable force that he became. Its almost like this could be the start of his second career.
Now I’m not expecting him to win, as nice as it would be. He may even finish last. But so what? If he gets through 4 rounds in 4 days, competing with the best in the world, then that is as good as a victory for now. He’s come out and said he feels better than ever and is finally playing with no pain, something that he hasn’t been able to do in years. He’s been out playing practice rounds with Rickie Fowler and Dustin Johnson (and President Trump of all people), all of whom have come out and said how well Tiger is hitting it. He’s posted little snippets of his comeback and he looks fresh and ready. Granted his swing has had to adapt through all of his recovery, but it was never exactly the most technically correct swing anyway. His club twirl on the other hand has been and always will be utter perfection.
The big test will be on and around the greens. This is one of the main things that made Tiger great. I still get goosebumps thinking back to the 16th green at the 2005 Masters. Fingers crossed we see some magic like this again in the very near future.
Not only does TW seem in a good place physically, it would appear that mentally he is in a much better place than he has been for a long time. His DUI earlier this year is now a distant memory thankfully (speaking of mugshots, find our brand new Bunker Mentality mugs here ), and to see him as a Vice-Captain at the Presidents Cup was a welcome surprise. In fact, he looked to enjoy the role and seemed happy to be back in and amongst his fellow professionals. You know things are good when Tiger is smiling in public.
When it comes to the rest of the field this week at the Hero World Challenge, it’s hard to pick a winner. Out of the 18 man field, any one of the 18 could win (yes that includes Tiger as well…). It’s a great way to end the year really, getting some of the top guys in the world competing where every single pairing is a marquee group. It would be nice to see one of the Europeans triumph, especially as we’re on the verge of a Ryder Cup year. Tom’s tip of the week – pick a name out of a hat, pour yourself your favourite tipple, sit back, relax and enjoy.
As ever, follow myself @bunkertom1 and use the #teambunker to join the discussion. Let’s see you guys and girls out on the course “wearing it well” in your @bunkerstyle outfits.