The Forecaddie was mighty hopeful a year ago when Tiger Woods returned to PGA Tour action at Torrey Pines. He gave us hope at the hit-and-giggle that was Woods’ 2016 exhibition event in the Bahamas, his first tournament in 15 months. But after a missed cut at Torrey, a course where he’s won eight times, and a withdrawal in Dubai the next month, The Man Out Front wasn’t laughing.
A back fusion and another promising performance at Albany later, and Woods is making another return to San Diego. The Farmers Insurance Open will be his first official Tour start since last year’s event.
And yes, The Forecaddie is once again feeling optimistic. It’s hard not to after catching up with Woods’ friend and former Isleworth neighbor, John Cook, at the Diamond Resorts Invitational a couple of weeks ago in Tiger’s former adopted hometown of Orlando.
“I saw something different,” Cook said of Woods, who tied for ninth last month in the Bahamas. “I saw positive body language, a happier Tiger than we’ve seen in a long time and a healthy Tiger – that means he’s strong. He wasn’t faking.
“You could tell the last couple years, it was a struggle. He looked like he didn’t struggle at all (this time). He looked more ready to play for real. … A lot of times you have to pass the eye (and) smell test of people that really know what they’re looking at, and I think he passed that eye test.”
TMOF is no optometrist, but he agrees; Woods does seem healthier and happier. But can he translate that into success – and trophies?
Cook said the key for Woods in his latest comeback is to not force anything. Woods made it look almost effortless in winning 79 times on the PGA Tour, including 14 majors. The same can’t be said for the past few years.
“His body wasn’t allowing him to do what he wanted, so he was trying to force things, it just looked like that to me,” Cook said. “This one looks more controlled and efficient. It looks like he’s in it for the long haul. … His body is just moving and rotating. He looks more flexible. He looks like he’s working on that flexibility instead of just throwing a bunch of hard, heavy weight around.”
That flexibility has allowed Woods, at 42, to create speed “properly,” said Cook, who said he’s spoken with Woods over the phone in recent months. During those conversations, Woods expressed to Cook how much fun he was having testing equipment. Cook also could sense that Woods was more than hopeful about his latest comeback.
“He sounded like he was going to do this,” Cook said. “That changed a lot in my mind. … I don’t see there’s any reason why he can’t start contending. He’s Tiger Woods.”
Yes, yes he is. But will he be that Tiger Woods at Torrey and beyond? The golf world, including TMOF, has its collective fingers crossed.