On Tiger Woods’ Return to the Game
My eyes were glued to the screen this weekend at the Quickens Loans National, with the anticipated return of Tiger Woods. Since undergoing surgery for a pinched nerve in his back, this marked the player’s first tournament after a 3-month absence. Watching him back in March, you could see the full extent of his pain as he finished the WGV-Cadillac Championship with his worst ever final-round score. Perhaps not surprisingly, Woods’ game this weekend came to a premature end. Serving as another reminder of the damage done – the player flopped, not even making the cut at the end of the second day.
For those of you that followed Woods’ game – it was easy to notice his rusty and at times sloppy approach on the course. Woods briefly raised hopes that he would last the weekend, with a birdie on the 9th and 10th. However, shortly followed by four straight bogeys, he ended his second-round four shots outside the cut mark. While this is still an impressive score for someone recovering from injury, it marks a notable change in performance from what we’re used to seeing from this player.
On Woods’ Approach at Quickens Loans National
I found myself inspired by Woods’ approach on the course this weekend. A previous 14-time winner, he’s used to being at the top of his game. Returning to a tournament knowing his inabilities must have been a big step for the former No 1. Woods made it clear that he wasn’t concerned about his score – notably focusing on his physical performance. The player commented that he was even encouraged by the way he had played – having felt no pain or twinges in his back was a big step towards recovery.
(For anyone who’s had an injury you’ll completely understand his relief at this result!)
Despite not making the cut, he remained positive throughout – merely assessing his performance and noting areas for improvement (something I’ll certainly be taking on board!). UGA Members will know how frustrated I used to become when my game was sinking – something that definitely didn’t help my score. But, making a conscientious effort to use these moments and analyze my mistakes was an excellent opportunity to really improve my performance.
On Woods’ Impact on the Sport
It’s by no means a secret the impact Woods has had upon our sport. However, it would seem that until this ‘break’, its full extent had not yet been fully realized. As an international sporting star, he’s a recognizable figure – even for those who don’t follow the game. And with the wavering interest golf has been struggling with in recent years, this is something they can’t afford to lose. Media attention is often attracted by scandal and talent – both of which Woods has amply provided us with. I’ve even been reading crazy figures claiming American TV viewing figures for golf have dropped by 45% since just last year!
And it’s not as if we haven’t seen enough scandal and talent to retain these viewers’ attention. Between Bubba Watson’s second Masters title, Martin Kaymer’s double victory and Rory McIlory’s unexpected win at Wentworth after his high profile split – what more do viewers want? It would seem Woods has more of an influence over the game than people realized.
Whatever the ultimate reason for Woods’ influence on our game – all eyes will no doubt continue to remain fixed on the player as his recovery progresses. Hoping to play The Open at Hoylake in a few weeks time, it’ll be interesting to see whether Woods has been able to use those lessons learnt from his first tournament back.
About Alex Davidson:
Alex founded UGA to cut through the marketing “noise” of the golf industry and offer serious golfers a place to find genuine advice, insight and commentary.
Alex has authored a guide to mastering the mental game of golf, entitled “Think to Win”. More information about this guide (now available for Kindle) can be found at www.ThinkToWinBook.com
Alex can be contacted directly at firstname.lastname@example.org