AFTER the controversy that surrounded his comeback appearance at last week’s Australian Open, a resurgent Tiger Woods will no doubt have afforded himself a wry smile at having finished one shot ahead of Adam Scott.
While that would have provided him with a certain amount of satisfaction, of more significance was the manner in which he was striking the ball again.
Hitting it “flush” was the verdict of his caddy Joe LaCava, who knows a mean ball striker when he sees one having been on Fred Couples’ bag for many years, and if that’s the case Tiger’s world ranking is going to be on the rise again very soon.
Knowing the perfectionist and ferocious competitor that he is, Tiger will have been disappointed with his third round 75 and though his putting was a little shaky, the fact he was getting the ball from tee to green in regulation 75 per cent of the time provided the strongest indicator that his game is on the mend.
It’s no exaggeration to say it’s been disastrous for golf having someone of Tiger’s standing missing for the best part of two years and his return to form in Sydney was certainly a welcome shot in the arm for the game.
The sporting public loves a great comeback story and after his travails away from the course, coupled with his career-threatening knee injury, were he to return to his former glories it would cement his place as probably the greatest player that ever lived.
Despite it being a home player in Greg Chalmers who ended up winning the tournament, it was Woods who attracted the attention of the galleries and that tells you all you need to know about the American’s unique appeal.
Throughout this troubled period in his career I’ve never doubted he possessed the ability to get back to the pinnacle of the sport and with his body back in peak condition, there’s no reason to suggest he won’t add to his Major haul for the first time since 2008, next year.
Looking at the courses that will host next year’s big four events – Augusta (Masters), Olympic Club (US Open), Royal Lytham (The Open) and Kiawah Island (USPGA) – all, because of their length, will suit Tiger but I’d suggest Augusta will provide him with the best opportunity of ending his drought at the Majors.
Sam Torrance OBE is a multiple Ryder Cup-winning golfer. He has won 21 European Tour titles in a career spanning 40 years and famously sank the putt that clinched victory for Europe in the 1985 Ryder Cup. Follow Sam on twitter @torrancesam.