The return of Tiger Woods

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Eldrick Tont “Tiger” Woods is one of the most famous golf players in the world, and is also considered the best golf player of all time. The last few years of his career have been frustrating for the former world number one as he has slipped down the rankings due to a persistent back injury. Despite these constant setbacks, Woods has returned to the sport fully recovered, with many believing 2018 is his comeback year. His recent call up to the Ryder Cup squad, in which America are favourites according to the Ryder Cup odds 2018 sites, seems to prove this theory. But will Woods ever get back to the ‘top’ of the sport?

From a young age, Woods showed promise in the sport and was quickly labelled as a child prodigy. Before he reached the age of ten, Tiger had already broken 80 and also won the 9-10 boys’ event at the Junior World Golf Championships. At age 12, Woods broke 70 on a regulation golf course for the first time.

Woods continued to excel at the amateur and junior level, winning the US Amateur Championship three times in row and was part of the winning team at the 1994 Eisenhower Trophy World Amateur Golf Team Championships.

Unsurprisingly, his success on the amateur stage lead to numerous college’s aiming to recruit him. In the end he chose Stanford University who were the NCAA Champions at the time. During his time at Stanford he participated in his first PGA Tour major, the 1995 Masters, and finished tied 41st and as the only amateur to make the cut.

After turning pro at age 20 in 1996, Woods immediately signed advertising deals with Nike and Titleist and was also named as Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year and PGA Tour Rookie of the Year in the same year. His first PGA major would come just one year later when he won the Masters in record-breaking fashion. Woods was also the youngest winner of the tournament, aged just 21 years old.

Despite winning the Masters, it wouldn’t be until 1999 when he became one of the greatest golfers and started a period of domination. From 1999 to 2009, Woods managed to win 13 major tournaments, bringing his career total to 14 Majors. The highlight of this decade of dominance came in 2001 following his 2001 Masters victory. His two-stroke win over David Duval means that Woods became the first ever player to hold all four Majors at the same time.

For around a decade, Woods was at the top of the sport with very few players being able to compete with him consistently.

However, injuries and controversy in his personal life since his final Major tournament win led to a massive downturn in his career and put an end to his period of dominance. His 2010 season was the worst of his career as he failed to win a single tournament. His worst performance of the year came in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, finishing second-to-last place by going 18-over par. The next few years saw slight improvements, but Woods still failed to win a Major tournament.

Even though failure to win a Major trophy was a major disappointment for the golfer, things would get a lot worse for Woods. From 2014 to 2017, he would end up missing out on numerous tournaments due to a persistent back injury which he would end up having four operations on. At one point there was a fear that he wouldn’t be able to play professional golf again, but a month later it was announced that Woods would be returning to the sport.

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After a couple of years away from the PGA Tour, his first tournament of the year was the Farmers Insurance Open. Although he finished in tied-23rd place, there were a lot of positives to take from the tournament. The main positive being that Woods completed his first four-round event on the PGA Tour since August 2015.

Since returning from injury, Woods has participated in numerous PGA Tour tournaments and recorded some fairly impressive scores, but has fallen short on winning a tournament. His best performance this year came in the PGA Championship where Woods managed to secure a second place finish, only two strokes behind first place Brooks Koepka. It’s this impressive form in the last few months which has led him earning a ‘wild card’ call up for Team USA at the Ryder Cup.

There is also a belief amongst golf fans that 2018 is the start of Tiger Wood’s’ comeback. At the start of the year, Woods claimed that he just wants to get back on the course and hit some shots. There was very little expectation for him to immediately start winning again, but it’s almost nine months later and Woods seems to be improving every tournament that he has participated in. It also seems that he has regained his aggression which made him successful in the first place. His putting is still not as good as it used to be, but it is one part of the game that could come back faster than anything else.

Although Woods has been taking all the right steps in his ‘comeback’ to the sport, there is still one thing that he is missing in order to complete his return; a tournament win.

It’s highly unlikely that Woods will be able to reclaim his period of dominance like he did in the early 2000s. However, if the American is able to ‘reinvent’ himself like others have done in the past, Woods might be able to remain competitive at the higher levels in of the sport in the next few years.