By: Brendan Burris ~Staff Writer~
After what seemed like an eternity away from the game, Tiger Woods returned to competitive golf this past week at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas. Although the tournament had a more relaxed atmosphere than your typical PGA Tour event (only 18 player field, no cut), there were certainly positive signs from Woods as he attempts to get back on top of the game he once ruled before numerous health and personal problems.
Coming off of two separate back surgeries in the last 14 months, fans and experts alike really had no indication of where Woods was with his game and how competitive he could possibly be returning to a tour with far more talent than was present while he was dominating the game.
This type of relaxed event was a great place for Tiger to return to the game: playing in a tournament he hosts and his foundation sponsors on a course he is very familiar with.
For the most part, Woods’ game looked solid. He was more consistent off the tee than one would expect a player still testing new equipment for that part of his bag. His iron and wedge game was quite solid and all in all, his tempo looked back to the vintage Woods golf fans are accustomed to seeing.
It was not all positives to come out of the week, however. Woods, who ended the week tied with the eventual winner in birdies and eagles, also struggled with the big number, making numerous double bogeys throughout the week, most notably on the first and final rounds of the event. He sometimes struggled at the end of rounds and looked like he was fading, as shown by two double bogeys in his final three holes on Thursday.
His short game and putting had their moments but must be improved if he is to contend on some of the more difficult PGA Tour and major championship courses, which is ultimately his standard for his game no matter the expectations or opinions of fans and pundits.
This tournament has to be viewed as a win for Woods in his return to competitive golf, even though room for improvement was evident.
If he can shore up some of the loose issues with his game that we saw this past week and get more steady with the new equipment in the bag this year, we could see a different Tiger out on the course this year than we have in previous seasons.