Tiger's Return: What should we expect?
It seems that barely a week goes by without a Tiger Woods news story or a further teasing video of questionable resolution showing off his newest swing improvements. Last week was to be no exception as we received the news of a planned return to competitive golf this year.
To an equal dose of fanfare and scepticism, the 14-time major winner announced his intention to play at his foundation's Hero World Challenge at the end of November.
This statement dominated the global golfing headlines - such is the draw of Tiger Woods - and led to almost every commentator in the game giving their take on the planned return.
Anyway, here's our thoughts on the news and expectations for the future.
Chances at the Hero World Challenge
Just having Tiger back swinging a golf club in competition golf should be a positive for us fans and he may well have limited expectations initially.
With that said, he did manage to record the highest number of birdies in the Bahamas at last year's event which was evidence to many that his flashes of brilliance could herald a return to some degree of competitive form.
Catch Tiger's highlights from last year's tournament below:
This time around we are all somewhat in the dark as to possible performance levels. How is his body going to hold up? What will his target be for the four days play? What will he judge as a success?
In a recent interview, Tiger did let the world know that he is hitting the ball further than ever, but the sceptics among us may inquire as to his accuracy from the tee-box.
The truth is, we just won't know until 30th November.
What can we expect long-term?
As a recap, Tiger has 14 major wins to his name (second only to Jack Nicklaus), 79 PGA Tour titles (second only to Sam Snead) and, among his list of other historic achievements, he has the lowest average score to par in PGA Tour history.
In short, he has an enviable legacy that will identify him as one of the greats of the game, irrespective of future achievements.
It's been a while since we have enjoyed watching Tiger Woods in his pomp. Here's a reminder:
But can we really expect big things from the career grand slammer? Probably not.
His mental game, once the most impressive on the planet, will remain strong, but when relying on a fragile body to execute shots that were firmly within his arsenal back some years ago, it is possible that he will rarely threaten at the higher reaches of tournament leaderboards.
Additionally, there is a far more competitive golfing landscape today than was evident when Tiger was in his prime and winning majors with ease. Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy et al. all provide stern opposition even if he were to, miraculously, get back to somewhere near his best.
Commentators are so sure that the game has moved on from Tiger that they have coined the modern golfing landscape as the 'post-Tiger era'. It's up to the man himself to prove that he still has what it takes to mix it with the world's best.
The first step starts with the Hero World Challenge on November 30th.
What do you think about Tiger's return to competitive golf? Can we expect much from him in 2018? Let us know below.