With Tiger Woods’ announcement Thursday that he will play in the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines and the Genesis Open at Riviera Country Club in the coming weeks, the question of when his latest comeback will begin has been answered.
The next question is how competitive Woods will be when he resumes what is likely to be a relatively active schedule in 2018.
“With Tiger we just don’t exactly know what it’s going to bring. But I think because of the way that the Hero (World Challenge) went and the confidence that he’s talking with, the place that he’s at in life right now, I think he’s in the best position he’s been in in a few years to come back and be a regular out here competing. So that I would call the forefront of the excitement in golf right now,” Jordan Spieth said this week.
Once Woods played the Hero World Challenge where he finished ninth and showed no ill effects from the spinal fusion surgery he had last April, he said he anticipated returning to the PGA Tour this year, though he didn’t know when or how often he will play.
“My swing is definitely shorter and I can’t turn as far,” Woods wrote recently on his website. “My back is fused and that’s as far as it’s going to go. But I was surprised at how explosive I was…I’m more than a full club longer than when I shut it down.”
Starting at Torrey Pines, where he has won eight times including the 2008 U.S. Open, seemed a logical place to begin considering his history there and fondness for the place. With his Tiger Woods Foundation hosting the Genesis Open at Riviera, it also seemed likely Woods would return to the place where he played his first Tour event in 1992.
Woods has not played an official PGA Tour event since missing the cut at Torrey Pines last year. He followed that with a start at the Dubai Desert Classic where he withdrew in the second round. He did not play again until the Hero World Challenge in December.
How good might Woods be this time around?
“If he comes back and does what he can do and plays the way he can, there’s no reason why he’s not going to win again,” Marc Leishman said. “It wouldn’t surprise me if he went on and won, if he went back to his old self the way he’s swinging. I only saw it on TV but the way he was swinging at the Bahamas it looked good to me.”