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Tiger Continues His Major Quest
The comeback is in full swing, and so is Tiger Woods.
The 14-time major winner has taken the golf world by storm since returning to action in January at Torrey Pines.
Attendance at these events, some that Tiger never played in before, are smashing records. Television ratings are approaching marks where they were when Woods was in his prime. And now, experts are talking victories and trophies for the 42-year-old again.
He will get his first major test April 5-8 at Augusta National where he has tried on his green jacket four times — 1997, 2001, 2002 and 2005. Tiger is +350 to win one major this year (odds provided by Bovada).
Woods, who joined the tour in 1996, was the greatest golfer of his era. His major wins and 79 PGA Tour titles are second to none. Money earnings, top ranking in the world, victories around the globe — Woods was at the top of the world until injuries and personal problems started to derail his unstoppable game.
Tiger has been gone from the tour and professional golf for a few years with back and knee issues. He returned in 2018 after his fourth back surgery at the Farmers Insurance Open in California. He finished in a tie for 23rd.
The whispers started. Maybe he can play pain-free.
He missed the cut in his next tournament before finishing 12th in the Honda Classic. The new Tiger was smiling and having fun on the golf course.
Then he took Tiger 2.0 to another level at the Valspar Championship. He shared the lead in spots of the tournament, but finished one shot back in the end. Woods played the next week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational where he has won eight times. He finished in a tie for fifth with his sights now fixed on Augusta.
Is he No. 1 in the world? No. That ranking belongs to Dustin Johnson. However, Woods has spent the most consecutive weeks (281) and most total weeks (683) in that position. Currently, he is ranked 104th.
How about all the young guns? Sure, he has to compete with many fantastic players such as Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Rory McIlroy, but Tiger has never been intimidated by anyone.
Can he stay healthy? And that is the big question as the season wears on. How much pounding can Tiger’s back take? There have been too many depressing, short-lived Tiger comebacks to fully believe this is for real.
His swing speed and distance seem to be back. His short game, considering how long he has been off the tour, is amazing. His putting is almost where it was before. Tiger’s biggest hindrance still seems to be his driving accuracy where he ranks 202nd.
Tiger’s first major test starts at Augusta. He will then compete in the U.S. Open on June 14-17 at Shinnecock Hills in Southampton, N.Y., the British Open on July 19-22 at Carnoustie in Angus, Scotland, and the PGA Championship on Aug. 9-12 at Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis.
While it appears likely that Tiger will win again on the tour, his consistent mistakes off the tee will keep him out of the awards’ ceremonies at the majors.