Just as word came came Monday afternoon that Tiger Woods was withdrawing from the Safeway Open, I was posting my previous blog in which I lampooned – in good nature of course – the fans and media predicting how he would fare in Napa, Calif.
It wasn’t that big a deal to cut a few lines from the blog, which was quickly done before it was published, but it is a big deal as far as golf is concerned.
The entire game would like to see Tiger back at peak form if that’s still possible, but the question that is now put on hold until he does finally tee it up, probably at his Hero World Challenge in December, is what can we expect of him when he does begin his comeback?
A friend of mine said to me over the long weekend that if anybody can make such a comeback after being out of action for over a year, multiple back surgeries and his 41st birthday on the horizon, it’s Tiger.
There’s a good chance that he’s correct in that assessment, but to hear some of the speculation since Woods announced that he would play in Napa, it sounded as if an immediate, triumphant return was about to take place and it might have been that way.
But who knows, given all the factors mentioned above?
But those who should know better have been falling all over themselves just to be the first to get it right about when Tiger actually will return. After months of media speculation, that question still hasn’t been totally answered after Monday’s announcement that you can read here.
Adding to the speculation about what we’ll see from Tiger when he does return is a quote that Jesper Parnevik gave Golf Digest after seeing Woods and playing a few holes with him near his home in Jupiter, Fla.
“He’s pounding it a mile and flushing everything. On the range at least, his trajectory and ball flight are like the Tiger we knew 15 years ago.” said Parnevik.
That was guaranteed to get gums flapping, but as you’ll see in Tiger’s own statement, “I practiced the last several days in California, but after a lot of hours, I knew I wasn’t ready to compete against the best golfers in the world,” he wrote.
Like a ticket to watch the Texas Rangers in the World Series, what Parnevik saw apparently didn’t exist, at least in Woods’ mind and that’s really all that counts as far as his own confidence goes.
What’s important is not so much what fans and media are expecting is what Tiger himself is expecting once he gets back. If he struggles or misses the cut, it could be what’s happening in his mind more than his back that’s the most important factor.
That’s not a prediction that he will struggle. He may very well have a great showing when he finally does return. Success may come immediately, or it may be a longer “process,” do use a popular golf buzzword, and conceivably, it may not come at all.
Yet, now is not the time for predictions, nor was last week, with so many factors that make Tiger’s future so difficult to predict, yet saying they don’t know is unacceptable when it comes to the brightest marquee name in golf. Ego won’t allow it.
Those who pretend to know should know better.