When anyone is asked to name a golfer, the majority will immediately respond with “Tiger Woods”. The 42-year-old was and for many fans still is the biggest name in the sport, but problems in his personal life coupled with persistent injuries meant the former world number one quickly fell down the rankings.
He seemed to lose that magic that put him well ahead of his rivals. However, after not winning a major for a decade could Tiger finally be roaring back to life?
Woods stole the headlines on Sunday after a superb performance at the Valspar Championship. British champion Paul Casey won the event, but it was Woods who hogged the back pages as he stormed to a second-place finish. You can’t deny Casey’s great achievement in winning for the first time in 9 years on the American circuit, but you could say that Tiger’s performance meant a whole lot more for the sport in general.
All eyes were on the tournament as soon as Woods seemed to be in contention at Innisbrook. The event was being televised live in the USA by NBC and they reported that their third round viewing figures have shot up by a staggering 181% and these were the highest numbers posted on a Saturday gold broadcast for 12 years.
There were signs at the Honda Classic the week before that Woods was finally going to rediscover some sort of form as he went on to finish in 12th place. Nobody could envisage just how good he was at the Valspar Championship though as Woods looked fitter and stronger than ever. He looked more like the Tiger Woods who had taken the golfing world by storm and this has certainly got everybody excited.
Woods looked like a player very much getting back to his best but the component that still evaded him at times in Innisbrook was that clinical finishing that has made him so successful in the sport. So far, he’s won 14 major titles and collected 79 wins on the PGA Tour and if Woods can build on his most recent outing you can certainly see win number 80 arriving sooner rather than later.
Could this come as soon as this week at Bay Hill? Woods has been victorious here eight times previously and it would be the ideal way to announce that he’s back to the world. The Masters take place next month and this is a major that Tiger has won four times and if he repeats the performance shown at Innisbrook but can find that ruthless edge he could certainly become a 5-time Master’s Champion.
While you could say that Wood’s is still in the early stages of his comeback it certainly looks like he is trying to build on each performance by getting stronger with every tournament. If he can rediscover anything near to his best he will be a big threat on the PGA Tour and the younger generation which includes the likes of Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy will certainly have a tough time dealing with such a great player.