At last Tiger Woods will be playing competitive golf. After a 15 month break from the game, Woods will return to The Hero World Challenge this week, an event that is hosted by his foundation. The tournament is not a PGA Tour sanctioned event but it features 18 of the worlds best golfers and counts for the Official World Golf rankings where Tiger Woods currently ranks 898th. This marks the beginning of Woods’ long awaited comeback, one that we have been anticipating for awhile now. Tiger finally feels like he is healthy and his game is in tournament shape, so there is nothing but excitement now.
Many things have changed since he last tee’d it up in a professional event, but the most noticeable one comes from the clubs in his bag. Earlier this summer, Nike announced that it will suspend all golf equipment manufacturing including clubs, balls, and gloves. This has allowed players like Rory and Tiger to explore different options for clubs while still maintaining their contracts with Nike for apparel. This week we will see Tiger using a TaylorMade driver along with a Scotty Cameron putter (one he has won 13 of his 14 major championships with) and a Bridgestone ball. He decided to keep Nike irons in play for now but I would expect to see a switch at some point in the coming year.
Another change is his swing. With his back injury and recovery coupled with his change in coach, Tiger’s swing looks different as it has in the past. It takes more pressure off of his back and he seems to swing easier and should produce a better longevity. The question remains if it will help him remain consistent with his ball striking. The preliminary reports say he is striking the ball as good as ever and is unleashing 300-310 yard drives down the fairway. His chipping has seemed to improve as well over the past couple months and he says his is confident in his technique.
This is an exciting time for the sport of golf. The most exciting golfers of all time and one of the most polarizing athletes in the world returns from a lengthy absence. In the golfing world, Tiger still has 5-10 years of fairly competitive golf left in him if he can stay healthy. This could provide another decade of fireworks, victories and fist pumps for the GOAT.