Like everybody else in golf, I look forward to seeing how Tiger Woods fares at the Hero World Challenge, which gets underway on Thursday, but unlike many in the media, I’m having no problem keeping my enthusiasm in check.
There is no temptation to analyze and that, it seems, would have me labelled as a hater in some trolls’ minds on social media, but it’s more a case of better to remain silent and be thought of as a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve seen predictions of Tiger adding to the 14 majors he’s already won and odds on whether he’ll win, withdraw or retire this week in the Bahamas as the media and other observers trip over one another in making the definitive statement on the Big Cat’s return and hoping it’s correct for crowing purposes later on.
Such stories may have drawn eyes to them, but the reality is that they make it a good thing that news is being consumed online these days because it would be a big waste of trees to run them on paper because there’s no more insight into what will happen that a casual observer on the couch at home could offer.
There has been useful information come out this week, that being that Tiger is in good spirits, apparently pain free and hitting the ball well, but none of these are guarantees of what’s ahead.
It isn’t that long ago that he could barely move and got hit with a DUI for what was in his system to deal with the pain. As recently as September at the Presidents Cup, he publicly admitted that he wasn’t sure if he’d even play competitive golf again after his fourth back operation.
Yet here he is, nearly 10 years removed from his last major championship and approaching his 42nd birthday. Glowing reports of his swing and his attitude and demeanour are all positive signs, but don’t tell us anything until he tees it up in actual competition.
CBS analyst Peter Kostis couldn’t have been more correct in a recent tweet.
I find that the comments from people about what Tiger will or will not do in this latest comeback, are more of a reflection of the people making them than anything Tiger will do. Truth is no one knows so let's watch.
— Peter Kostis (@peterjkostis) November 27, 2017
Whether he wins, finishes dead last or somewhere in between this week, it won’t tell the entire story. This is the beginning of the infamous “process” you hear so much about in golf. What happens this week will only set the tone for more blah-blah in the media over the holidays in December.
It’s a long haul. Will he remain competitive and will it be the kind of competitive Tiger wants and expects? If it isn’t the level of excellence that has led us to this moment, how will Woods deal with it mentally? Will his back or any other body part for that matter hold up?
Those are only questions, not second guessing, and the reason is that nobody has the answers, not even the man himself.