Greg Norman is pumping the brakes on Tiger Woods comeback hype

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Greg Norman is pumping the brakes on Tiger Woods comeback hype

PGA Tour

Greg Norman is pumping the brakes on Tiger Woods comeback hype

The Tiger Woods expectations are higher than ever following his T-9 finish last week at the Hero World Challenge, during which he showed plenty of distance and looked more like vintage Tiger than he has in years.

Two-time British Open winner Greg Norman did his best to temper those expectations during a press conference in Naples, Fla. at the QBE Shootout tournament, which he founded in 1989.

“You just hope it continues on for him, because a lot of the stuff he’s done has been self inflicted,” Norman said. “A lot of the stuff that he’s going through now is more, you know, the wear and tear of the body hitting a lot of golf balls. Being a power player, your body breaks down and that’s going to continue to be the there because he just got ready to play one event, which was an 18-man field, right? When you start getting up in the 156-man field and the golf courses are a little bit more difficult than Albany, a lot more rough out there, and he’s got to manage his expectations. Instead of trying to power a 7-iron out of the rough 220 yards, your body may – you do that a few times, you never know what’s going to happen after that.”

Even Tiger’s harshest critics would have to admit he exceeded expectations in the Bahamas, reportedly reaching ball speeds of 180 miles per hour off the tee and often out-driving big hitters such as reigning PGA Tour Player of the Year Justin Thomas.

Woods shot 8 under on the week, 10 shots behind winner Rickie Fowler but ahead of A-listers like Thomas (7 under), Dustin Johnson (even) and U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka (3 over). He struggled around the greens at times, but the consistency with driver was remarkable given how inaccurate he’s been off the tee in recent years.

“Look, he’s a name. He’s moved the needle for quite a long time in the game of golf,” Norman said. “Everybody was wondering, you know, the speculation of him saying, ‘I may never play golf again,’ and then all of a sudden he says he’s hitting the ball 330 yards. Big difference from there to there, right?”

Woods hasn’t announced anything resembling a schedule yet and faces the difficult task of playing enough to prepare for the Masters in April without overdoing it and risking further injury.

“I hope he manages his expectations more than everybody else’s expectations being (that) he’s going to come back and be Tiger of past,” Norman said. “I think he still has a little bit of time on his side, but not a whole lot.”

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