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He's Back: Tiger All Set To Return (Again) At 12:05 PM ET

I know we did this a year ago but much suggests this Hero World Challenge comeback is different.

And if it's not different, who cares? He's a legend trying to come back. Tiger Woods could easily have his feet up on Privacy, diving and not giving a hoot. Instead, he gives the impression of someone refreshed, rejuvenated and motivated for one more great run. (Cynics, James Corrigan has the dissent for The Telegraph.)

Golf Channel coverage begins at 12:30 ET Thursday. Woods tees off with Justin Thomas at 12:05, so expect live look-ins for his warm up and first two holes on Morning Drive and the Golf Central Pre-Game.

And yes, we'll be all in on those shows (I'll be chatting with Gary Williams at 9:30 am ET). The other 17 players in the Hero field have had nice, long seasons and I would hope are just fine letting the tournament host and 14-time major winner enjoy the spotlight.

Golfweek's Jeff Babineau
observed this of Tiger's final preparation, a pro-am round with Hero CEO Pawan Munjal:

...Woods appeared to be free-swinging, hit his driver fine and even made an eagle (driving the 350-yard seventh hole, which played downwind, making a putt of 20 feet). He added three birdies in his round, hit some terrific approaches into Nos. 2 and 17, a pair of par 3s, and even saved a nice par from the sand at his nemesis hole, the 470-yard 18th, where he made three of his six double bogeys in last year’s event.

Many of the younger players in the field, from Justin Thomas to Jordan Spieth to Hideki Matsuyama, have said they’ve looked forward to a day when they could compete against Woods at his best. He’s a long way from that, but most everyone is curious to see how Woods breaks from the gate this week.

“He seems more confident this year the way he’s walking and talking,” said Spieth, who spent time around Woods at the Presidents Cup this fall, where Woods was an assistant to Steve Stricker.

Bob Harig notes at that last year's edition of the Hero saw a 190% ratings hike for Golf Channel and incredible interest in Woods.

Without insulting any of today's young stars, Harig presents the many reasons we still have such a fascination with Woods. Including this story from former Tiger instructor Sean Foley:

Foley was at the Match Play Championship in Arizona, and he was in the hotel bar, where a woman recognized him and asked if he was Tiger's coach. A dentist who did not play golf, the woman said she recognized Foley.

"I'm a huge Tiger Woods fan," she said. "I never played golf in my life. My kids are gone now, and I take nine weeks of vacation a year. And I come to where Tiger is to watch him play golf. For me, it's like watching Ali."
Foley paused.

"That's it, isn't it?" he said. "This woman who never played golf and took all her vacation time and she'd go to tournaments where there were not as many people. I think that's it. I think that is exactly why we are interested. She didn't know golf, but she just saw his greatness. She saw this aura, this energy. I thought it was fascinating."

Woods has given us much to chew on, but the obvious difference in his swing should be less of a story now that he's admitted the change is due to his fusion surgery. The rhythm, at least in the videos we've seen, has been good and aggressive.

Still, it's different and will be hard for some to get past. This, from Brian Wacker's story on Tiger's effort to take advantage of his newfound joy.

“Last year I was still struggling with a little bit of pain,” Woods continued. “I was able to hit some good shots, able to play, but in looking back on it now, I look on it as playing in slow-mo but it was as hard as I could hit it. I didn't realize how bad my back had become and how much I was flinching and just how slow I was. I didn't realize it because it's been a slow degrading process. I thought I had some speed, thought I was playing halfway decent, shot some good scores, but now I've looked back on it and man, I didn't even have much at all.”

It's also fun to see he's motivated by leaving his children with memories of the amazing player he once was, as Steve DiMeglio writes for USA Today.

The extent of Tiger's pain and pill abuse to squelch the misery became apparent with his DUI arrest, but it's still refreshing to see the normally guarded player admit things he used to never admit.

As Karen Crouse wrote in a solid piece for the NY Times, Woods is opening up about how he managed very inconsistent pain.

To try to manage his discomfort, and the insomnia that was a byproduct of the shooting pain that traveled from his back down his leg and into his foot, Woods misused prescription drugs. Between shots during a practice round on Monday, Woods said: “I was just taking drugs on top of drugs, just trying to kill the nerve pain. It was like something hitting your body about 200 times a day. And the thing is that I didn’t know when it was coming.”

The swing looks pretty sweet at impact:


Glutes: Activated

A post shared by SkratchTV (@skratchtv) on Nov 29, 2017 at 2:15pm PST


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Reader Comments (28)

Best of Luck Tiger! Great to see him back
11.30.2017 | Unregistered CommenterCyril Sneer
What will be will be - hope he leaves his anger off the course.
11.30.2017 | Unregistered CommenterTom Morris
I wish someone could post videos of Golf Central last year leading to Tiger's 2016 "comeback". I'm sure it would feature all the same analysts saying all the same things they are saying on his 2017 "comeback" like "I think he found a swing that will work" "I like the way he looks", etc.
11.30.2017 | Unregistered CommenterTwilight Putter
Twilight Putter
Exactly what I was thinking. Golf Channel is obviously hyping this for ratings, but we have heard this before.
I hope he plays great, but he can't be the Tiger we remember. Too many things have occurred in that mind and body.
11.30.2017 | Unregistered CommenterLynn S.
Sclaff & Foozle will allow Tiger one really loud F-bomb and two S-bombs ... one loud and one sort of loud. They have to be bombed when a bunch of people are around, especially young boys and girls who love the game of golf and look up to him.
11.30.2017 | Unregistered CommenterSclaff & Foozle
The Ali comparison is one I have made myself commenting here. But remember Ali just like Willie Mays stayed way past their competitive advantage. Unlike their sports golf has no one actively defending or assaulting you unless you count Brandle... But golf also has no ref, team, or judge to bail you out when thing go crooked. The course and the score and your ability to get the ball in the hole become your friend or foe depending on your preparation and execution. Tiger's biggest adversary has always been him, like most great golfers. Everyone will get another look at how that battle is going.
11.30.2017 | Unregistered Commentermunihack
I agree that this seems to really be a new Tiger, happy, appreciative of the chance to compete again, a much more complete person than before. But.... Hank Haney really believed that Tiger's greatness in many ways derived from the absence of all of those things- the egotism, arrogance, whatever you want to call it. He called it "The Package". Assuming no injury, I'd say Tiger has as good a chance to win things gonig forward as most of these guys, maybe more due to his experience, but he's different (in a good way) and the results will probably different (in a bad way?) from before.
11.30.2017 | Unregistered CommenterBrianS
If that's the swing at impact, he's in for more pain with such steep shoulders.
11.30.2017 | Unregistered CommenterElTigre

Dammit!!!! we don't need to hear the negatives, the ''yea, but...''; :)

Hey seriously, I am aware of that, but Ben Hogan was The Wee Ice Mon, and in reality he was, in the midst of his rounds, and his practice session, but was personable, signing autographs, chatting it up so much more than the stories we are told... The HH cautionary tale is yet to be determined, as his newfound friendliness has not been tested as a hindrance between the ropes ~~dig~~
11.30.2017 | Unregistered Commenterdigsouth
A countdown clock...classic Golf Channel.
Just a little reminder that Woods is closer to being a Senior Tour player than the last time he won a major.
11.30.2017 | Unregistered Commenterjjshaka
"And if it's not different, who cares?" Steiny might but it sounds like ratings-speak for hedging your bet in case the horse throws a shoe.

Jeebus, digsouth. Stop wasting your time in Shackland and start saving sinners from the pulpit.
11.30.2017 | Unregistered CommenterD. maculata
The return of the great white hope.
11.30.2017 | Unregistered CommenterBill
Outside of a couple poor chips, he looks pretty decent after 9. Better than I thought he would look, anyway.
11.30.2017 | Unregistered CommenterBDF
Chevron World Challenge, Williams World Challenge, Target World Challenge, Northwestern Mutual World Challenge, Hero World Challenge.

3 years later, no Hero motorcycle dealerships in North America. Perhaps another World Challenge is on the horizon.
11.30.2017 | Unregistered CommenterFC
Yep he's back alright. Screaming GD and slamming clubs into the tee box. He's just the type of person that we can all be proud for our kids to be exposed to.

Anyone else see any other player damage a tee box today? Anyone else see any other player scream GD after bad shot? Maybe I missed those?? And I love the excuses from the talking heads bout how tough it is to chip off of Bermuda. Really? I play on Bermuda several times a week. I'm glad to know that my chipping skills are world class. Maybe Tiger should play a couple Sat mornings with me and my buddies for a "How to chip on Bermuda grass" lesson. What a crock.

His game looks pretty good but he's still the same old Tiger. No respect for the course, the game or its fans.
11.30.2017 | Unregistered CommenterJupiter
@Jupiter, Tiger should play a couple Saturday morning rounds with you so that you'll be embarrassed to ever pick up a golf club again.
11.30.2017 | Unregistered CommenterAdamup
Decent round but he looks every bit of 42 on a course, that is basically a Par 69
11.30.2017 | Unregistered Commenterjjshaka

same round as JT and blowing it miles past him. Surprising distance for a 42 year old. I was encouraged, although the two flubbed chips are a bit of a red flag.
11.30.2017 | Unregistered CommenterSari
Wait, there were other players on the course? I was hopeful there would be less fawning and more balanced coverage. Fool me once ...
11.30.2017 | Unregistered CommenterGinGHIN
Sappy? No, dig. But if you ever decide to submit a job application thru Steiny, make sure you include your post in letter form verbatim.

No comment on his game since I was limited to his first tee ball with work to do. Nice to get a friendly bounce right out the gate to take the heat off. Maybe I'll watch some of the replay tonight if I can't find a rerun of Rick and Morty.
11.30.2017 | Unregistered CommenterD. maculata
Very fair point.
Not a fan but don't wish any ill effects on him health wise.
11.30.2017 | Unregistered Commenterjjshaka

Have you no decency?
11.30.2017 | Unregistered CommenterHardy Greaves
Players 42 and beyond who've won majors.

Player (42), Mickelson (43), Ray (43), Floyd (43), Vardon (44), de Vicenzo (44), Trevino (44), Irwin (45), Barber (45), Nicklaus (46), Old Morris (46), Boros (48).
11.30.2017 | Unregistered CommenterFC
No @Adamup I'd be embarrassed that people would find out that I spent 3 1/2 hours of my life with him.

I like to respect people and I like people that I can respect. I have no respect for Tiger.
11.30.2017 | Unregistered CommenterJupiter
And only one of them played today's ball, FC. It might mean something.

So what do you think, Jupiter? Is the temper flare a little lava bubbling to the surface from believing he's physically capable of being competitive again or you thinking more of the same? Correct me if I'm wrong but I don't remember him showing much in the way of emotions when he was struggling during the previous false starts. More disgusted than angry about bad shots.
11.30.2017 | Unregistered CommenterD. maculata
I am surprised how quickly be comes out of the shot after impact. On a number of shots the straigtening of the spine looked like it began before impact sending the ball right.

And, his chipping looked like grade D for a touring pro.

A 69 on what is basically a home course for him is inconculsive. Nothing was convincing with respect to how he would fair during a full field event with a tougher and less familiar layout.

Charley Hoffman also shot 69. If pressed, I would say Woods and Hoffman might have similar trajetories going forward. Occasional top 10's and even a win or two at something like the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
11.30.2017 | Unregistered CommenterAbu Dhabi Golfer
FC: Number of players with 14+ majors: Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus.

I thought he played well today. A number of players hit flubby chips. Is he "back"? Not until he wins a tournament.

But he did a lot better than a lot of people predicted.
11.30.2017 | Unregistered CommenterErik J. Barzeski
@Good point, dmac. I even felt a little ”naw, a club slam, I’ve missed that!”. At least he didn’t throw a club into the crowd. Anyway, I thought it was nice too see him play as well as he did.
12.1.2017 | Unregistered CommenterHawkeye

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