Steve Carroll: Assuming he doesn’t suffer stagefright – or a late case of the chipping yips – we all have a good reason to tune in to an otherwise nondescript tournament this week.
Tiger Woods is back!
It may surprise you that it’s been the best part of 17 months since the 14-time Major winner last teed it up in anger.
That’s because even though he has been absent from competitive action, no one can go a week without trying to find out what he’s up to, what clubs he might be using or what logos he will have on his bag.
Now, thanks to his participation in the Hero World Challenge, we can actually concentrate on some golf when it comes to looking at the player many regard as the greatest of all time.
So what I want to know is this: What should we expect from Tiger Woods on his long awaited return?
Is he going to win? Will he prop up the field?
Is it going to be like 1997 all over again or are we witnessing the start of a long march into playing obscurity?
Craig Middleton: In an 18-man field you have to expect him to be somewhere near the top of the leaderboard, don’t you?
I expect to see at least one club twirl, two duffed chips and three or four trips to the trees to look for a wayward drive – all totalling in a round of 70.
We can’t expect him to come straight in and perform miracles, but you get the feeling that if he has a good start in the Bahamas then 2017 could be a good year for Woods.
Mark Townsend: While everyone will be obsessing his opening round I would be more interested in what he’s up to in the third and fourth rounds (there’s no cut and it’s a course he knows well so it’s the perfect time to come back).
For the first time since he switched his putter in 2010 we can all obsess about a different brand of club being in his bag but the real interest is how he’s driving it, how he’s chipping it and how he’s putting it playing on successive days in a tournament.
And, given the length of time out and false dawns – we were genuinely hopeful he’d be back in June for the US Open – how the head is working.
I think top 15 would be impressive.
James Savage: I’m worried about his chipping.
He’s no doubt been practising hard but he can’t recreate the pressure he’ll be under when he first gets a wedge in his hand around the green.
It doesn’t matter whether he’s physically ready or not.
He must be mentally fragile when it comes to short game – the reason why he pulled out last time by all accounts.
I just hope he can complete four rounds.
SC: Is it barmy to ‘expect’ him to contend, given the high standards he has always set?
CM: No I don’t think it is. He’s still Tiger Woods isn’t he? I still expect him to win more tournaments to be honest. Viva Tiger.
JS: If a footballer was coming back after 17 months out, even if they were the best player ever, what would you expect?
They’d come on as a sub with 10 minutes to go and you’d just hope that they got a few touches of the ball, ran around freely, and got up off the floor after a tackle.
The following match, they’d maybe get 30 minutes as they built up some physical and mental confidence.
Golf doesn’t really have an equivalent.
He’s going from nothing to four full rounds with the entire world watching.
Just getting through it will be a big achievement for me.
Tom Lenton: Three rounds in the 70’s and one in the 60s, I think. I just hope Tiger doesn’t make an excuse of injury and grind out four rounds. It will be great to see him with a Scotty Cameron again!
Joe Urquhart: I hope for Tiger and the world’s sake that he can last four rounds and not disgrace himself. I’m not sure I have the mental capacity to watch him have another mini meltdown resulting in him flinging his clubs onto a buggy and withdrawing.
*Please just get through it*.
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