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Tiger Woods

What is the most memorable Tiger Woods comeback?

Tiger Woods is making another headline return at the Genesis Invitational but what, asks Matt Chivers, are the most significant comebacks of his career?

 

When Tiger Woods arrived on the scene over 25 years ago, there were no odds to defy or doubts to remove. The superstar golfer was expected to win every week.

15 major titles and 82 PGA Tour trophies later and Woods’ career has a very different complexion following his involvement in a serious car accident in February 2021.

Every moment the 47-year-old spends on the course is now cherished by the golf world, which is why both fans and players were delighted to hear of his commitment to the Genesis Invitational this week.

Golf fans could be forgiven for thinking ‘is Tiger Woods making a comeback’ at the tournament he has played the most but still hasn’t tasted victory at, but many were also surprised his return has come so soon in 2023.

Riviera Country Club is the favourite stop on the PGA Tour schedule of many players and Woods could use this event, which his charity organisation hosts, to feel out his body and discover how it will cope during a full week of competition.

He and his team judged the Hero World Challenge as a step too far as he developed a case of plantar fasciitis in December, but you’d assume Woods considered a number of factors in his physical state before announcing his participation in the second full-field designated event of the season.

We have looked back at Woods’ career, and his injury record, and taken down his most significant comebacks:

Taking the US Open title in 2008 with a broken leg

After finishing second at the Masters in 2008, Woods was forced into a two-month absence as he underwent arthroscopic surgery to repair cartilage in his left knee.

He was told he had stress fractures in his left tibia and advised to take a six-week rest, but he competed in the US Open at Torrey Pines. Throughout the week, Woods struggled with severe pain in his leg and was often seen grimacing and trudging around the course in agony.

He created a memorable moment in US Open history when he made a birdie putt on the 72nd hole to force a playoff with Rocco Mediate on Monday. Woods eventually came out on top to win his 14th major trophy.

Announcing indefinite leave from the Tour in 2009 after a public scandal

With different reports filtering through day-by-day that Woods had been unfaithful to his wife, he announced in December 2009 he would stop playing golf to focus on his family.

Woods read his apology on national television the following February and, one month later, he announced he would play in the Masters just four months after taking an indefinite leave from the game.

He finished tied fourth and he wouldn’t win again on the Tour until the Arnold Palmer Invitational in 2012.

Becoming the pied piper at the Tour Championship in 2018

Woods had his fourth back operation in April 2017 when he was ranked 788th in the world. The surgeons removed a damaged disc to alleviate pain in his back and leg.

Woods admitted ahead of the Presidents Cup he may never play competitive golf again but fast forward to September 2018 and he had an army of fans following him down the fairway at East Lake as he won the Tour Championship, his first victory since 2013 and his 80th on Tour to that point.

tiger woods

Winning his 15th major at the Masters

Securing the Tour Championship was one thing, but very few people could have predicted Woods was capable of notching another major title in his career. The hunt for Jack Nicklaus’ all-time major haul of 18 was out of sight.

Woods impressively outscored Brooks Koepka, a hot and fresh four-time major winner to that point, Dustin Johnson, Francesco Molinari, and Tony Finau to celebrate slipping on his fifth Green Jacket.

Considering he doubted his future on the Tour two years earlier, while missing the Arnold Palmer Invitational in the approaching weeks to the Masters with a neck strain, his victory in 2019 really is an iconic one.

Making the cut at Augusta National in 2022

Woods was involved in a serious car crash in Ranchos Palos Verdes in California two years ago which caused him severe leg injuries. He has since admitted after surgery that leg amputation was once an option on the table.

He competed with his son Charlie at the PNC Championship nine months later, an event that he holds close to his heart as he watched his young apprentice flourish at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club in Florida.

After playing a practice round at Augusta National with Charlie and Justin Thomas, yet another Tiger Woods Masters comeback was certainly on the cards.

He competed, valiantly made the cut, and finished in 47th place. The final round made it clear that Woods just about had four rounds in the tank as the limp in his leg became more and more visible.

He went on to play at the PGA Championship at Southern Hills but withdrew after the third round and he missed the cut at the 150th Open Championship at St Andrews.

Can Tiger Woods win the Genesis Invitational?! Tweet me and let me know!

Matt Chivers

Matt Chivers

Now on the wrong side of 25, Matt has been playing golf since the age of 13 and was largely inspired to take up the game by countless family members who played golf during his childhood.

Matt is a member at Royal Cinque Ports in Deal playing off a 5 handicap, just a pitching wedge away from his hometown of Dover where he went to school and grew up. He has previously been a member at Etchinghill and Walmer and Kingsdown in Kent.

Having studied history at the University of Liverpool, Matt went on to pass his NCTJ Exams in Manchester a year later to fulfil his lifelong ambition of becoming a journalist. He picked up work experience along the way at places such as the Racing Post, the Independent, Sportsbeat and the Lancashire Evening Post.

Matt joined NCG in February 2023 and is the website’s main source of tour news, features and opinion. He has reported live from events such as The Open, the Ryder Cup and The Players Championship, having also interviewed and spoken to the likes of Rory McIlroy, Tommy Fleetwood, Lee Westwood, Graeme McDowell, Henrik Stenson, to name just a few.

Consuming tour golf on what is a 24/7 basis, you can come to Matt for informed views on the game and the latest updates on the PGA Tour, DP World Tour, LPGA Tour, Ladies European Tour and LIV Golf.

What’s in Matt’s bag: Cobra LTDx LS driver, Cobra LTDx 3-wood, TaylorMade P7MC irons, Ping Glide 4.0 wedges, Odyssey putter.

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