golf

What Should We Expect from Tiger Woods in 2017?

January 18, 2017

- Grant Whittington

As Tiger Woods completed his understated comeback at the Hero World Challenge event in the Bahamas, there were some who believed that it represented a failure on behalf of the 14-time major winner. After all, Woods finished 15th of the 17 players to took part, while he looked a shadow of the competitor who dominated the game at his peak and transformed the sport beyond all recognition.

As Woods’ caddie Joe LaCava claimed in his post-tournament interview, however, it would be incredibly unfair to judge the star’s performance without the correct context or compare him to his rivals. While many competitors had enjoyed a full year of golf and were at full fitness, for example, Woods was playing from a standing start and returning from a prolonged absence of more than six months.

What Should we Expect from Tiger in the Year Ahead?

In fact, there are many reasons why Woods should consider his comeback an incredible success. Not only did he maintain the highest possible level of physical fitness for all five days, but he also showcased some brilliant shots and the type of matchplay that once made him an unbeatable force in the sport. Not a single player came close to matching Woods’ impressive haul of 24 birdies, while all that was missing was consistency and accurate decision making.

This is only to be expected too, as it will take a little longer for Woods to discover his competitive edge and the mental sharpness that once separated him from even his closest rivals.

With this in mind, Woods will retain considerable confidence heading into 2017. With any fears about his physical condition having been laid to rest, he is hopeful of playing a full golf schedule and competing in all four majors over the course of the next 12 months. This will allow him ample time to rediscover his form and appetite for battle, while also improving the decision making that the player himself admitted had let him down at the Hero World Challenge.

Can Woods Challenge the Elite and Add to His Major Haul?

While we should expect Tiger to return to the fore in 2017 and resume his rightful place among the world’s elite, the burning question that remains is whether or not he will be able to challenge for a major title. This seems like a strange consideration for a man who is second only to Jack Nicklaus in terms of major honours won, but while Woods his only four titles behind the legendary Nicklaus he has not claimed a major since lifting the U.S. Open trophy back in 2008.

Woods will get his first chance to show his mettle at the Masters in April, which of course was the scene of his first, blockbusting major win as a professional in 1997. While he is not considered to be among the genuine contenders at present, the latest  odds for the US Masters have him priced at an impressive 22/1 on average. This speaks volumes about the pedigree of the man and the esteem in which he is still revered, while it may also highlight just how much the sport has missed him in his absence.

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