Last Chance Saloon for Tiger

Tiger Woods plans to return to golf next month, in what is surely to be his last hurrah following a string of surgeries.

Golf fans around the world would have raised an eyebrow or two following the announcement that Woods has penciled in three tournaments, starting at the Safeway Open on October 13, to mark his return.

Among other things, he said: “Whether I can play depends on my continued progress and recovery. My hope is to have my game ready to go.”

We think the key word here is ‘hope’.

Let’s face it, Woods has been beat-up. The former world number one has undergone three separate surgeries to relieve him of the back pain he first started suffering from in March 2014 during the final round of the Honda Classic, where he was forced to withdraw.

Woods made a couple returns in between procedures, but it was always too soon, setting himself further back in recovery. So yes, he ‘hopes’ to return, but it will only be if his body allows him too.

Let’s also not forget that this is not the young pup with the Colgate smile that destroyed the Masters field in 1997. Or the broad-shouldered bomber who battled back from two knee operations after winning the 2008 US Open basically on one leg.

Woods turns 41 in December and golf has no doubt taken its toll on his body, especially his back. The fact that it has taken the better part of a year to recover from these procedures should tell you that his body is not what it once was.

With this in mind, Woods’ statement has put him in the Last Chance Saloon. If he returns and is still in pain, then surely he has to pack away the clubs for good.

But what if he isn’t in pain? What if he rediscovers some form from old? He could still have a decade of high quality golf ahead of him. Also, the idea of a fit and powerful Tiger competing against the likes of Jason Day and Jordan Spieth is quite tantalizing to say the least.

Clips such as this, released in April, certainly fuel that hope…

So can Woods turn Comeback Kid?

It can be done, as Fred Couples proved, to a degree. The American was plagued with back injuries throughout his career but at the tender age of 46, managed a T3 at the 2006 Masters.

Either way, Woods certainly knows this and you can bet your bottom dollar the former world number one wants to add at least one more positive chapter to his legacy.

Watch this space folks…

Doug Mattushek