Tiger Woods made another return to golf this past weekend to play in the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, and he finished the tournament in 23rd place at three under par.
There has not been a singular face of golf in recent years. Younger stars like Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson and Jon Rahm have battled it out at majors and for the PGA Tour’s number one world ranking, yet none of them have been able to become the face of golf itself.
When Tiger Woods crashed out of the golf world in 2009 after his implications in an infidelity scandal, he left a gaping void in the world of golf. Woods had almost become synonymous with golf itself, as the popular PGA Tour video games were named after him and he approached the record for both tournament wins and major wins. After his fall from grace and health, golf searched for a new superstar.
A number of new players came to bring excitement back to golf—like the aforementioned Spieth, Thomas and Johnson, among others—but none of them have been able to create a sustainable run of dominance anywhere near what Woods put together in the 2000s.
Since his scandal, Woods has tried multiple times to make his return to golf, but injuries have repeatedly stymied hopes of a return to greatness.
After a spinal fusion surgery last year, Woods could not swing a club for six months, and the Farmers Insurance Open marked his first official event in a year. Woods performed proficiently and, more importantly, remained injury-free and feeling good after the weekend.
He also made the cut for the first time since 2015 and did not go over par in any of his four rounds. Although Woods would have liked to perform better, the weekend was a positive experience for him after such a long break from tournament golf.
“I got a lot out of my rounds,” Woods said to the Associated Press. “The short game wasn’t something I was worried about. I knew what I could do, what I’ve been doing at home. That wasn’t going to be an issue. It was going to be, ‘Can I shoot low scores?’ I didn’t, but I grinded out some good rounds.”
Woods struggled mightily off the tee, with ESPN Stats and Info reporting that he hit the fewest fairways of his entire PGA career, but at the very least, his driver caused no problems for his back as it did last year. On the bright side, his short game saved him on numerous occasions, and he even showed flashes of the brilliance, potentially pointing to signs of the old Tiger.
Woods does not plan to overexert himself in trying to play as many events as possible, focusing on remaining healthy and ready to compete in the Masters in April. Playing four full rounds of golf without pain was a significant first step in that goal.
Despite his virtual irrelevance from the leaderboards on the PGA Tour for the majority of the past decade now, Tiger Woods continues to draw the attention of the golf world in his pursuits of a return to the top. After dominating golf for so many years, he certainly is hard to ignore.
His next tournament is the Genesis Open at Riviera in mid-February.