On April 25th, the announcement that Tiger Woods registered for the U.S Open started a saga of speculation and excitement in the golf community. We do not want to get ahead of ourselves here, right? So, we’ve put together a short chronology of everything we know so far and our assessment of Tiger “coming back” on tour.
The key point here is not the coming back per se. If you follow Tiger Woods, you probably know that he’s been playing since “the thing” and, although he’s never won a big tournament since, he hasn’t really gone away. What do we mean by comeback, then? We mean we want old Tiger back. We want the explosive, accurate, perfect player that mesmerized a new generation of golf fans and brought the sport to the global mainstream stage.
A series of injuries, along with public shame and unhealed wounds of numerous kinds, can be blamed for the demise of Eldrick Tont “Tiger” Woods and his game.
Here are the facts from Tiger’s last major tournament win:
- June 16 2008 | Last time Tiger won the U.S. Open, which he played in spite of doctors’ orders to go on crutches for two weeks. He had reconstructive surgery 8 days later.
- December 2008 | Injury to his right Achilles.
- April 8 2010 | Tiger plays The Masters again and after his publicized personal life debacle. He won this tournament in ’07, ’01, ’02 and ’05 but this time he was not up to par.
- May 2010 | He withdrew from the Players almost halfway through his final round after experiencing tingling down his right side.
- December 2010 | Lingering soreness in his Achilles caused some discomfort while playing.
- April 2011 | Minor sprain to his left Achilles in the middle of The Masters.
- May 2011| The Achilles, a prior knee injury and calf pain all came to the Players, causing an early withdrawal.
- March 2012 | He was catered off the WGC at Doral. After a bad tee shot.
- May 2013 | Tiger attributed his poor performance at the Memorial and the U.S. Open to elbow pain, which he injured at the Players.
- August 2013 | He only played 9 holes of his pro-am at The Masters because of a stiff neck and went to the ground on the 13th hole of the Barclays on Sunday from what he said was back pain.
- March 2014 | Back surgery
- August 2014 | Re-injures back during his third tournament after the surgery at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.
- February 2015 | Messed up back again. He withdrew from the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
- March 2015 | First microdiscectomy (this would be his second back intervention).
- September 2015 | Second microdiscectomy. He missed the rest of the 2015 season and the first part of 2016.
- October 2015 | Follow-up microdiscectomy surgery.
- March 2 2016 | Tiger announces that, while there is no timetable for his return to competitive games, he feels his short game is pretty sharp.
- April 25 2016 | Tiger registers for the 2016 U.S. Open at Oakmont.
Woods was thought to have established as a career goal beating Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major championships, he currently needs 5 more to surpass the record. As much as people in certain media circles obsessed about this figure, we recently learned that Tiger wasn’t really motivated by Nicklaus’ record. In the recent and widely read by anyone interested in Wods’ life “The Secret History of Tiger Woods”, an in-depth essay by Wright Thompson for ESPN Magazine, it was revealed that Tiger never talked about it and that, when asked, he rarely responded.
Also in that piece, Michael “The Michael” Jordan talked about his perception about long time friend and sports superstar colleague’s career, saying that if he won another major tournament, he would retire happily:
“I think he’s tired. I think he really wishes he could retire, but he doesn’t know how to do it yet, and I don’t think he wants to leave it where it is right now. If he could win a major and walk away, he would, I think.” — Michael Jordan on ESPN Magazine
Then Jordan shattered our hearts and our dreams of having #MakeTigerGreatAgain become a thing when he said that: “I love him so much that I can’t tell him, ‘You’re not gonna be great again.’”
After drying our tears, we tried to find more hints about Tiger’s plans to make a true comeback. On April 26, just 5 days after the ESPN article was published, Tiger played 5 holes at the Bluejack National in Texas. Some consider this his first official sign of coming back.
RG: Ceremonial opening tee shot is dead down the middle. pic.twitter.com/5mAtIMaUif
— Tiger Woods (@TigerWoods) April 25, 2016
We are less optimistic and, although articles like this one are not very encouraging, we hope that he returns only when he’s completely recovered and well. In the past, Tiger himself admits to have returned too soon after an injury/surgery, and we agree.
While a true comeback is improbable, it is not impossible, and we believe that he takes as much time off as needed in order to even have a chance. Of course we all was to #MakeTigerGreatAgain, but rushing into it might be the path to failure. And yes, the 2016 U.S. Open might be rushing it, so even if he registered, that doesn’t mean he has to play. For everyone’s long term happiness, it might be better if he doesn’t |
In an update published on September 7th, Tiger Woods announced he would be playing the Safeway Open in October, which will officially mark his return to competitive golf and bring his fans out of a much too prolonged misery. The post also mentions Tiger's participation in the Turkish Airlines Open and the Hero World Challenge, organized by his foundation.
Ready to scream now? Not too fast! Tiger was wise enough, knowing how things have gone in the past, to be cautious as well and keep his return as a conditional event:
"Whether I can play depends on my continued progress and recovery. My hope is to have my game ready to go."
So don't sing victory just yet, as the return of the king remains an elusive dream.
After a much anticipated comeback to major golf tournaments, Tiger Woods said he wouldn't play the Safeway Open or the Turkish Airlines Open. Why, oh, why?
— Golfland Warehouse (@G0LFLAND) October 11, 2016
Here is what Tiger said on his website:
After a lot of soul searching and honest reflection, I know that I am not yet ready to play on the PGA TOUR or compete in Turkey. My health is good, and I feel strong, but my game is vulnerable and not where it needs to be.
If not now, Tiger, when? -I ask... When, for the love of Arnold Palmer!
Tiger tells Charlie Rose he would come back in December 2016.
Tiger withdraws from the Masters, says he's not Tournament ready. No timetable for his return (again).
Fourth back surgery.
"The surgery went well, and I'm optimistic this will relieve my back spasms and pain," Woods said. "When healed, I look forward to getting back to a normal life, playing with my kids, competing in professional golf and living without the pain I have been battling so long."