In his first legitimate competitive tournament of the season, Tiger tees it up on familiar territory.
Tiger has historically been nothing short of dominant at San Diego’s Torrey Pines Golf Course. The coastal track has seen him amass eight professional wins and a Junior World Championship there, and it has been the beginning of every real season for him since 2006. The 18th hole at Torry Pines was also the scene of one of the greatest moments in golf history, as Tiger made a ridiculous putt at the end of the final regulation round on Sunday to force a Monday playoff against clubhouse leader Rocco Mediate in 2008.
Ahead of the beginning of the tournament, Tiger was quoted as saying “I’m just trying to build toward April,” meaning the Masters on April 5-8, and added, “I haven’t felt this good in years.”
For a number of Tiger fans, and especially the golf television community, having Tiger back in a serious way is huge. He draws fans like nobody else, all of his personal transgressions aside. As it stands now, he looks to be in pretty good shape, and after his recent back surgery he could, for the first time in at least half a decade, be truly back.
“Surgeon said once his back is fused, he’s going to have speed like he’s in his early 30s,” tweeted @GCTigerTracker on January 24.
“Woods underwent an anterior lumbar interbody fusion on April 19,” wrote Will Gray for NBC Golf, “a procedure designed to alleviate lower back and leg pan and one that was ‘dramatically different’ from his three prior surgeries, according to agent Mark Steinberg. While his recovery in ongoing, Woods explained that this latest procedure brought about an immediate improvement.”
With that level of optimism coming from Tiger himself, and from the surgeon that many hope will have finally solved his swing issues, provides the basis for the hope that Tiger might finally be back from the long absence that involved well-documented personal, professional, and physical turmoil.
In the actual tournament being played over the weekend, Tiger was off to a promising start. While an opening round 72 (even par) would rarely have been considered promising to the golfer that Tiger once was, after everything that has happened it is an enormous success. A second-round 71 put him one stroke under par at the cut, ten strokes back of the leader through two rounds, Ryan Palmer (-11).
At the end of Friday’s round, the cut line finished at -1 through 36 holes. Having shot a 72 and a 72, Tiger sat right at the cut line, and earned a spot in the final two days of the tournament. All things considered, he and his fans can’t see this as anything but a success, and it certainly won’t be a negative factor for the ratings.