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  • Alistair Tait

Never Write off Tiger Woods

Admit it: you have a hard time believing Tiger Woods when he says his return to competitive golf is “a long way off.”

Are you feeling a sense of déjà vu all over again? Thought so. Me too.

In case you’re a golf fan who’s been isolating from Covid-19 on Pluto, Tiger tees it up this week with son Charlie in the PNC Championship in Orlando. This hit and giggle event will probably get higher ratings than this year’s major championships given Woods’s presence, his first return to golf after his horrific car accident 12 months ago.

Yes, we’ll all tune in to see how he’s hitting it, but not sure we’re going to believe Woods when he says competing in majors, winning big tournaments, is not currently on his radar.

“It’s going to be a while,” Woods admitted when asked about returning to the PGA Tour. “I couldn’t walk this golf course even right now and it’s flat. I don’t have the endurance. My leg is not quite right yet and it’s going to take time. I’m a long way from playing tournament golf.
“This is hit, hop in a cart and move about my business. Being able to play tournament golf and being able to recover, practice and train and hit balls after a round and do all of the things that I need to be at a high level? I’m a long way away from that.”

Do we really believe him? We’ve been here before with the 15-time major winner following a string of injuries, the sex scandal, the depressing video of a totally out of it Woods after being pulled over by police for suspected drink driving, then the accident last year when he nearly lost his right leg, not to mention his life.

Each time the inevitable question has followed: Can Tiger win another major?

Yes, yes, and yes! Remember, this is the man who won the U.S. Open on a broken leg!

Woods says he’s not even close to 100% with his game.

“I’m just starting to get back into trying to play again. So I don’t quite have the endurance that I would like to have. I’ve still got the hands, I’ve still the feel. Unfortunately sometimes the feel doesn’t really match up with the speed or the shot that I’m seeing
“The ball is not quite flying as far as I’d like or I’m used to and so we have to talk about some of the numbers and some of the shots and making some of those small adjustments.”

If any player in the history of the game can make the adjustments necessary to win golf tournaments and, yes, majors, it’s Tiger Woods. He’s a threat in most tournaments even when he’s playing at reduced ability. This is the man who used to win even when he didn’t have his A game, because Tiger’s B and C games are better than most player’s A games.

Tiger’s been written off before and came back to prove his doubters wrong. Why should it be any different this time even if a year ago we were wondering if he’d walk again never mind play golf?

Phil Mickelson showed this year that golfers in their 50s can win major championships. Tom Watson proved at 59 he had the right stuff when he came close to winning the 2009 Open Championship at Turnberry. If not for one rub of the green on the 72nd hole, when his approach shot hit a small downslope and ran over the green, Watson would have won his sixth Open Championship to tie Harry Vardon, in the process writing one of the best sports stories ever.

Woods has already penned a fair few miraculous tales of his own. There’s no reason to think he won’t pen more in future, even into his 50s, no matter what he says.

But the bottom line with Tiger is always the same: never, ever, write him off.

He’ll probably win next year’s Masters to tie Jack Nicklaus’s record of six.

We wouldn’t be surprised, would we?

#JustSaying: “The biggest thing is to have the mind-set and the belief you can win every tournament going in. A lot of guys don’t have that.” Tiger Woods

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