Will 2018 be the year of the Tiger?
Tom Irwin: In January 2018, Tiger Woods 2.0 will be posting pictures on Instagram of his family spring cleaning his house, chuckling ruefully in a selfie as he throws out the last of the baggy trousers his noughties self insisted on wearing and that Mac Daddy outfit.
Alex Perry: I feel like this is going somewhere…
Tom Irwin: All this extra space will make room for a fifth Wanamaker trophy and a replica 42nd Ryder Cup, his captain’s pick paying dividends as he goes 5-0-0 in a US whitewash.
Craig Middleton: I think he’ll reflect on 2018 as a decent year. He’s equalled Jack Nicklaus’s major record, he now holds the record for the most ever PGA Tour wins and his new back is feeling as good as it has ever felt.
Alex Perry: He’s won all four majors in a calendar year for the first time in his career and he’s reflecting on it as “decent”?
Craig Middleton: All right. Above average.
James Broadhurst: This time next year Tiger will be sat on his sofa with a heat pad soothing his injured back while he watches the American equivalent of Location, Location, Location.
Tom Irwin: Neigbourhood, Block, Precinct?
Alex Perry: Brilliant.
Craig Middleton: I could imagine Tiger watching reruns of Changing Rooms with Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen.
James Broadhurst: Or a bit of Bargain Hunt perhaps?
Craig Middleton: Homes Under the Hammer.
Alex Perry: We’re now literally naming daytime TV shows.
Steve Carroll: Back to reality, a few top 10s for Tiger this year would be considered significant progress.
James Broadhurst: He’ll have a couple of decent finishes to begin with, but his back will give in halfway through the season.
James Savage: I wouldn’t be surprised if his body gives up on him. He’s obviously hitting the ball a mile at the moment and could easily get a bit carried away. I think I preferred the idea of him hitting irons off every tee, plotting his way around then chipping and putting brilliantly to win. The Tiger who drives it 320 and straight just seems a bit odd for a 42-year-old.
Mark Townsend: For him to actually win again seems the most ludicrous thing ever to happen in the game. Another part of my head thinks he might win the Open. The script already seems to be written, so if it does happen it will all suddenly seem so logical. Whatever happens can seem him keep chugging along for at least three more years.
Alex Perry: If you’d told me at the start of 2011 that Darren Clarke would end the year a major champion I’d have questioned every last shred of integrity you have as one of this game’s finest brains. Clarke is just one of dozens of examples I could have plumped for. This sport is probably the most unpredictable of all. Of course Tiger can win again and if he stays fit he absolutely will.
Mark Townsend: Take your point but Clarke is one of the best Open players of his generation so, despite the age thing, it wasn’t like he won the US Open. I don’t agree that if he just stays fit then he’ll win given his back is fused and his head has been to some very odd places in recent years.
Alex Perry: Confused by your Clarke point. We’re talking about Tiger Woods.
Mark Townsend: You started it. I don’t agree that Clarke was the biggest surprise in the world. And don’t agree with your point about Woods. Otherwise we’re on the same page.
Alex Perry: Phew!
James Savage: I think he’ll play well, make cuts and get a few top 10s. But this will be the year he realises he’s not able to compete for majors anymore. If he plays the best he can play and Dustin Johnson does the same, there will only be one winner. Does he really want to be an ‘also ran’?
Steve Carroll: He doesn’t know anything else but golf.
Alex Perry: If he gets through the two, three, four events he’ll play between now and the Masters unscathed I’ll happily have a fiver on him finishing above DJ at Augusta.
James Savage: I’ll take some of that action
Alex Perry: If he enters the Masters, I fancy a top-10 finish.
James Savage: It is his best chance of a top 10 in a major this year.
Steve Carroll: He finished 4th there when he returned after his ‘break’ following some revelations about his private life.
James Savage: Was that the year of his dodgy drop on 15?
Mark Townsend: 2013. I watched it happen. That’s my humble brag of the day.
James Savage: Imagine how much the internet would lose it if something like that happened this year.
Mark Townsend: In order of high finishes: Open, Masters, PGA Championship, US Open.
Tom Irwin: I would say US Open or PGA Championship depending on how it is set up, it’s his short game that is most questionable and if it is the usual gunge around the greens then that problem broadly goes away. He made no birdies at Carnoustie in 1999, finished top 10 and cocked it up by getting impatient. But then he quite likes Augusta by all accounts.
Alex Perry: “Quite”.