When Tiger Woods returns to the PGA Tour this Thursday in the Safeway Open, the sports world needs to stand and rejoice. The PGA Tour hasn’t been the same since he stepped away in 2015. While Golf has managed to survive without him, it has not lived.
The mention of Woods name brings excitement to any tournament. But Golf has moved on, well, sort of. There are new players that have stepped up in his absence, while good they are not Tiger great. But what does a Tiger return actually mean to the PGA Tour? It means plenty as his rival Phil Mickelson said when he heard the news:
“I’m hoping we can get paired together [at the Safeway Open]. That would be really fun,” Mickelson told ESPN.com last month. “I would love it. It’s great to have him back, and hopefully he’s physically able to practice the way he needs.”
That sums up what his return means to the PGA. The two rarely get paired together in events but this is bigger than TV ratings. The Tour needs Tiger more than he needs the Tour. But this is where it will get a little exciting for the Golf world. Tiger fans have remained loyal during his absence and through his trying times, while Golf fans gave either forgotten about Tiger and brushed him off. But the ones that need to remember who he is are the players.
Golf has a new breed of contenders with Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, and Jordan Spieth but with Tiger’s return, all players will be forced to give their “A” game each tournament. This is what Golf needs. No one player dominated in 2016, with Jason Day and Johnson both earning 3 wins, it was pretty spread out. Golf is like any other sport, fans still look for that one person that can put them on his shoulders and carry them. While the new crop has shown potential, there isn’t a Tiger clone in the crowd.
By the time his tight grip on the sport was loosened he already had won 14 majors, not 3 or 4 but 14. As it stands now he has 75+ tournaments wins and still has another 10 years until he can settle into the Senior Tour and most likely dominate over there and can add to his legacy. Who’s to say that 5 more Majors are out of the question? At times it’s not about his current state of victories but Woods has a hold on golf that may never be broken. Players are still asked when he is coming back, every tournament is waiting for his official arrival and these players must know in the back of their minds they are on borrowed time.