Tiger Woods' comeback excites his fellow professionals
Last Updated: 26/11/17 11:55am
Tiger Woods returns to competitive action at this week's Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas and his fellow professionals are looking forward to seeing him back in action.
The 14-time major champion has not played since February after undergoing back surgery for the fourth time in three years but will make his comeback as a member of the elite 18-man field for the invitation tournament he hosts in Albany.
Justin Rose, Dustin Johnson, Henrik Stenson and Kevin Chappell are also set to line up in the event and have welcomed Woods back to the fold.
"It's obviously great to have Tiger back, it's the perfect event for him to come back to," said Rose. "It's obviously a very small field. It's pretty low key, if there's ever a low-key tournament for him.
"It's just great to see him back feeling good within himself, and his golf can build from there. If he performs like he did last time at the Hero that would be fantastic.
"I think he had 24 birdies. He led the field in birdies. He obviously had a bunch of mistakes which come from rustiness, but if we see that type of form that will be very encouraging."
Johnson played alongside Woods at Trump National Golf Club on Friday when they were also joined by US President Donald Trump for a time.
"Tiger coming back and playing well is definitely good for the game," said the world No 1 when he first learned of Woods' return. "I hope he does come back, he's healthy and he can come back and compete. Because he's good for the game of golf."
Stenson, who has been struggling with a rib injury in recent weeks, said: "It will be great to see him back. He's been the top player to play our game and what he's done for the game, it's been amazing. It will be good fun to see him back out competing again.
"He's been away from the game for quite some time and it's hard to go from just practicing to being competitive at the highest level. But he's someone that you never want to count out."
Chappell is another man to have recent experience of seeing Woods in action as he prepares to head to the Bahamas.
"I was fortunate enough to do a clinic with him a week after the Presidents Cup. I saw how good he was hitting it. I was not surprised to see him commit based on what I saw in Monterrey," said the American.
"I was impressed with the sound. He's always made a special sound. To hear that, and to see the ball control he had only a few days into practice, was impressive."
Australian Jason Day will not feature in the Hero World Challenge but has been in contact with Woods recently.
"I did talk to him and he did say it's the best he's felt in three years," said the former world No 1.
"From what I see on Instagram and what he's been telling me, he says he's ready and I'm hoping that he is because from what I hear, he's hitting it very long.
"And if he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see."
Masters champion Sergio Garcia is also looking forward to seeing Woods back in competitive action.
"Obviously having him back for golf is great; we all know that and whoever doesn't agree is not telling the truth," said the Spaniard earlier this month.
"It's going to be interesting to see. I think at the end of the day, anything that can help the game of golf is good for us."
Bubba Watson, Graeme McDowell and Ernie Els will be other keen observers of the action in Albany this week.
"Well, obviously, when Tiger Woods says he's going to play again, how would you not love it?" said Watson.
"You always want your legends to keep playing, you know. It's a sad day when they hang it up. So for him to get back and be healthy enough to get back, how would you not?"
McDowell said: "I think we're all really intrigued to see what sort of shape he'll be in physically when he comes back and we're all excited to get him back out here on the PGA Tour, doing what he does best, bringing fans in, bringing the attention in, and creating the buzz that he always has done."
Els said: "It is certainly going to be great to see him back in the arena and just take it for that and worry about the rest down the road.
"Let it just start flowing. Let him get comfortable out there again. Things have changed out here and let's see how he adapts his game to the new body."
Some of the leading players on the European Tour are also looking forward to seeing how Woods fares in the Hero World Challenge.
Padraig Harrington said: "It's great to see him back and let's not put him under too much pressure.
"It would be nice to allow him some time to get himself back into full stride rather than everybody expecting so much first out. I'll follow every shot on the first day for sure."
Ian Poulter said: "Tiger Woods is a massive addition to any field. He obviously moves the needle like no other player has ever done."
Andrew Johnston added: "It adds so much value to the events. How he's going to play and how he's going to be and hopefully he can stay fit for a long period of time and it's not stop-start, stop-start.
"I just hope he can get fit. You want to see the old Tiger come back and see how he plays against the best."