Let it finally be said… Tiger Woods is back! I know, I know I’m about the hundredth person to declare that this week, but I don’t think Tiger needs to win to truly be back… he just needs to be healthy and play.
If you watched Tiger play at the 2017 Farmers Open at Torrey Pines you knew you weren’t watching a healthy Tiger. His clubhead speed had fallen to 114 mph and he looked like he was trying to just finesse everything around the course to avoid injury. He went on to shoot 76-72, miss the cut- turn around and fly straight to Dubai only to shoot an opening 77 and withdraw with back spasms and never been seen again in 2017…. What a shitty letdown that was as a Tiger fan. Everyone basically succumbed to the fact that the Tiger Woods we once remembered as the most dominant golfer ever, was never going to be a thing again.
Fast forward a year and we’re fresh off a second place finish with Tiger playing his second set of back-to-back tournaments. How the hell did we get here? Did Tiger go complete AI and get a bionic body? Not really, he got a spinal fusion, but that basically sounds like the same thing.
Tiger is swinging freely and with confidence for the first time since 2013 – the year before his first back surgery. His health and confidence is most evident in his short game – a part of his game that has been surprisingly suspect in his 4 years fighting back injuries. He struggled with the yips – most notably at the 2015 Phoenix open when the dude was hitting 7 irons and putters from off the greens. It’s hard not to fault him though. If you’re injured and can’t swing – your confidence will be shot and at that point Tiger had none.
This year though? Tiger is 21st on the PGA Tour in strokes gained around the green, 23rd in strokes gained putting and 19th in strokes gained approaching the green. Off the tee has been his Achilles heel for so many years and this years no different. What could be diferent though? He’s finally healthy.
Tiger’s fusion surgery was complete different from any of his prior 3 microdiscectomy and we are seeing the benefits of it unfold right before our eyes. It alleviated the nerve troubles that first popped up when Tiger was forced to withdraw from the 2010 Players. The fusion has provided opportunities to win golf tournaments that Tiger Woods and many of his fans may have thought were long gone. Tiger realizes this, he’s already played 5 tournaments and at no time has he looked distressed or seem to take his foot off the pedal with his swing. He has notched the fastest swing speed recorded on the tour this year at 129 MPH – a far cry from his 2017 numbers. As long as the fusion holds up Tiger Woods looks up for the challenge of returning to the top of the PGA Tour. Let’s all just be happy we get to see a healthy Tiger again.