In all likelihood, Tiger Woods will be back on a golf course this year, which is music to the ears of golf fans everywhere. He may even be back by the British Open.
Tim Rosaforte of Golf Digest passes along the reason why that can be said with such confidence:
Woods missed the Masters, The Players Championship and the U.S. Open as part of the fallout for the back surgery he received nearly three months ago. There is no official timetable for his return, but he has been working on his chipping and putting since late April.
Some would say it makes more sense for Woods to participate in a lesser tournament to get his legs underneath him before challenging at the British Open, but everything in Woods’ approach and career at this point is about winning majors. He could still possibly challenge Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 wins on golf’s biggest stages.
Kyle Porter of CBSSports.com wouldn’t be surprised if Woods returns for the British Open:
I've said all along that I'd be surprised if he played that tournament, thinking he'd opt for a more comfortable venue (like the Bridgestone Invitational) but now I think I'd be surprised if he missed it.
Woods isn't one to skip out on majors if he can give them a go and he won at Royal Liverpool back in 2006.
Woods does have 14 major titles, but he hasn’t won one since the 2008 U.S. Open. He probably would never admit that at this stage of his potential return, but he is likely laser-focused on the British Open because of that slump.
Of course, the fact that we call it a slump is a testament to Woods’ career excellence more than anything else.
Woods’ focus and the fact that he has already won at Royal Liverpool, where the 2014 British Open takes place, is a dangerous combination for the rest of the field, which was absolutely crushed by Martin Kaymer at the U.S. Open.
Woods discussed his own timetable recently, via Steve DiMeglio of USA Today:
When I come back and start ramping it up how far am I away from being explosive. Do I still have that capability of hitting the ball like that? But once I start feeling like that, I don't think it would take more than a couple weeks to where I can get out there and feel like I can compete.
Now, how rusty am I going to be? The more time you give me, I think the better I'll be. The great thing about what I've done so far and all my other previous surgeries is that I worked on my short game. Once I start expanding from there and start competing and playing, if I start spraying it all over the lot and not hitting it that great, at least my short game is solid.
That's one of the positives to it.
The British Open begins on July 17, so that “couple of weeks” scenario is certainly in play. He is now taking full swings to go along with the work he has done on his short game, so don’t be surprised when he is near the top of the leaderboard almost immediately when he does return.
Where would Tiger Woods finish at the 2014 British Open if he plays?
Yes, there will be some competitive rust, as he said, but golf isn’t a sport in which practicing alone is drastically different from playing in a game, like baseball or football. There will be much more pressure at the major stage, but Woods is something of a grizzled veteran at this point in his career, and he has faced everything the sport can throw his direction.
He is one of the best golfers in the history of the sport, is singularly focused on the all-time majors race and is a three-time British Open champ. He may not win the 2014 version of the event, but he will certainly compete near the top of the leaderboard.
That would be good news looking forward for the sport if the U.S. Open TV ratings were any indication, via Austin Karp of Sports Business Daily:
Better comp for US Open: NBC got 5.1 overnight for McIlroy 8-stroke win in 2011. Also on Fathers Day. So this year down 35% compared to that— Austin Karp (@AustinKarp) June 16, 2014
Woods' presence alone, along with the comeback story and his chase of Nicklaus, would draw in many more viewers. Imagine if he actually competed for the title.
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