Big Cat’s Back (Not the Fused One)

Tiger smoked his first practice-round drive 319 yards down the center stripe of the fairway Tuesday, and the unfaithful golf world is once again murmuring “comeback” under their collective breath. Apparently Big Cat is back to bombing the ball (according to Rickie Fowler and Brad Faxon), albeit with a prosthetic leg and a cyborg spine. Unfortunately, ripping the driver is no guarantee of success (see 2017 Watson, Bubba), but it is encouraging.

The Tiger fame pendulum has swung so wildly from sacrosanct golf legend to reprehensible cheater that it’s difficult to plot him on the spectrum. There’s no better place to come back than the Hero World Challenge, a cutless tournament with an 18-player field (he’s guaranteed a top-20!). He’ll be paired with Justin Thomas, Player of the Year and top-5 favorite in every tournament he enters. If Tiger squeezes a couple drivers past him, it won’t matter where he finishes. The grandstands will reverberate with every event Woods enters all the way to Augusta.

Sorry LL, but I am calling it a comeback. For one reason or another, this time feels different. At this point, there’s not much to lose. By all accounts he’s just a dad now, and Thanksgiving 2009 is long gone. Of course, the DUI was baffling (how does a guy that rich drive intoxicated?), but he managed to plead it down and hopefully get the help he needs. I might be way off, but I’m calling one 2018 win and a major top-10. That would be a huge success considering where he’s been recently (currently ranked 1,199th in the world), and if it doesn’t happen, he can always play the injury card or just surrender and retire.

Tiger’s 2017 swing looks compact, pure, reminiscent of days past. Although golf is in a good place right now, nostalgia creeps into the psyche of every industry leader when they remember how much he meant to the bottom line. The golf world and its casual fans can always use a spark, and if Tiger’s actually healthy, he’ll set that world on fire. Enjoy.