All eyes will be on Tiger Woods when the Farmers Insurance Open gets underway Thursday.
The golfing superstar returned from a 15-month layoff with a respectable showing at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas in early December and said he plans on playing in four of the next five PGA events.
It’s one thing to say it. It’s another to do it. The 41-year-old has undergone multiple back and knee surgeries in recent years.
“This guy is so banged up,” Sportsnet’s golf analyst Ian Leggatt told Dean Blundell & Co. Tuesday on Sportsnet 590 The Fan. “I don’t even know how he walks to the first tee never mind plays golf, so we’ll have to wait and see how that goes.”
Despite not being in the same physical condition he was when he was the best golfer on the planet, Woods has many believing he’s going to find renewed success.
“His golf swing and his body looks like he’s going to be able to do this,” Leggatt said. “The violence that was in his golf swing has gone away, so I don’t think we’re going to see anything in there that’s going to hold him back…The way that he did play in Bahamas, I really believe that he can win again. A lot of the shots he did not hit it off the planet like he was before he went out the last time, and he kept the ball in front of him and I think there’s a lot of confidence there. Tiger Woods isn’t going to show up and play four of the next five if he can’t compete.”
Woods putted well in that December tournament and if he’s going to be successful this week he’ll need to rely on his finesse rather than power.
“We’re going to see great shots out of Tiger Woods if he’s healthy,” Leggatt said. “There’s no doubt about that because the creativity of Tiger Woods is what made him great. It wasn’t hitting 350-yard drives.”
While his durability is still a question mark, his familiarity with the Torrey Pines course is not. Woods has won the Farmers Insurance Open seven times in his career (1999, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2013). It might just be the perfect scenario to kick off his 2017.
“The greatest athletes that ever played the game play the best at the most crucial moments and we saw Tiger Woods do it over and over again,” Leggatt added. “He lives for that. That’s his drug and this is what he’s chasing again. The only way that Tiger Woods is going to be able to leave the game the way he wants to leave the game is to be able to win again, or at least have the opportunity to come down the 18th fairway with the chance to win another golf tournament.”