It was just a two-second clip … and the golf world was shocked. The video you posted Tiger Woods last Sunday brought great relief to crack lovers and to the sport in general. The image of him practicing at the driving range cleared ghosts and confirmed a presumption: the February car accident that could have killed him, didn’t kill him, and now the possibility of a new sporting resurrection is reborn, one of many in his glorious golf career. That he also had his deep ups and downs, of course, between surgeries and the 2009 sex scandal that led to the separation from his wife, the Swedish Elin Nordegren.
The video’s two-word title: “Making progress” was revealing. Golf, as Woods plays it, begins on the driving range, as did other greats in history like Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Ben Hogan and Greg Norman. That post on the networks was a smart marketing impact. It happens that Tiger’s life has always developed in front of the cameras, from the day he appeared on Bob Hope’s TV show at just two years old, presented as a little prodigy, to following his every step on the fairways of the PGA Tour. Those same cameras that magnified his figure in an excessive way and that also showed him paying high costs, such as that apology to everyone for his extramarital affairs. Or when he was exposed to ridicule while crawling on the court, victim of his back or knee injuries.
In the video, filmed at the Medalist Golf Club in Hobe Sound, Florida, Woods wore a white T-shirt and black shorts, along with the special protection of the same color along his right leg, which he maintained throughout his recovery from the accident. . The Californian hits a single shot with an iron there, but the half-full bucket of balls, the row of divots and the pitching monitor installed behind him reveal that the former world No. 1 was in the middle of a practice session. A sequence that harbors hope.
Tiger’s comeback is very likely to take place next week, at the press conference that will serve as a preview of the tournament he is hosting in the Bahamas: the Hero World Challenge, to be played from December 2 to 5. It is an appropriate and safe way for Woods to undertake his return to public life, after the devastating car accident that plunged him into inactivity and in a new dark period, away from the flashes and surrounded only by his intimates, with the focus on his injuries to the foot, ankle, tibia and fibula of his right leg.
Some American journalists who have followed Tiger’s career since its inception argue that his first tournament may be the PNC Championship, to be held from December 16 to 19 in Orlando. But there is a caveat: it is not an official contest, but a meeting that brings together 20 Majors champions, who play as a team with one of their relatives, be it a son, father, brother or wife, under the condition that are not professionals. A detail encourages the chance to see the star on that Ritz Carlton Golf Club course: it can be moved by cart, the ideal way to physically protect yourself. But above all, the desire to fulfill a new dream for his son is imposed Charlie Axel, already 12 years old, with whom he already played this championship in December of last year, a family experience that, logically, was televised live for the world.
If you’re talking about official tournaments, your sights could be on the Genesis Invitational, which will play at the Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades from February 17 to 20. The foundation that Tiger created in 1996 with his father Earl, TGR Foundational, formed an alliance with this contest since 2017 and the player became a kind of host. Also there, his return to the courts would be viable. But the speculations are numerous, nothing is clear yet. By projecting himself back in time, his next exposure to competitive golf could be postponed directly to the Masters, the Major he has won five times and has a devotion to. Especially since that 2019 triumph, at age 43, marked one of the most resounding returns to the activity of any athlete in history. What is clear today is that his intention to return is firm.
The champion of 15 major tournaments was the one who moved the needle of golf in the last 20 years and injected it with popularity. Beyond considering him a rival, the rest of the players always valued him and needed him, as part of that million-dollar machinery of the PGA Tour, a circuit that a few days ago announced a large increase in prizes. Justin Thomas, No. 6 in the rankings, is confident that his friend from the tour will attempt a return to competition if he can regain his form. “I know Tiger is going to try”, Thomas mentioned. “I don’t see him playing if he can’t play well. I don’t think I’m someone who plays at home, does a lot of laps of 75 and 76 shots and says, ‘I’m going to try at Augusta this year.’ That would not be him, at least as far as I know about him, “he said.
In his first post-accident interview last May, Woods described his recovery process as the most “painful” experience of his career and avoided comment about his future in professional golf. But even his most historic opponents are waiting for his next steps. After that video of Tiger where he appears practicing, Phil Mickelson challenged him, half jokingly, half seriously: “From Montana I learn that it is great to see Tiger again playing with a golf club. I know he can’t stand me having only one record, so I guess he wants to be the oldest player to win a major. I’ll just say this: Come here and try to do it”.
It should be remembered that shortly after turning 51, the San Diego southpaw became the oldest golfer to win one of the four major tournaments, after winning the PGA Championship in June. An impressive record, which is surely already within the objectives of Woods, who will reach 46 next month. An age that does not limit him to make his last attack on the golf elite and expand his legend.
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