Golf

Too early to predict future glory for Tiger Woods

When Tiger Woods tees up next year he will be at an age at which few have dominated, but that will not stop the US PGA Tour hype machine and others from suggesting that Tiger 2.0 will be as good as the previous version which won 14 Major championships between 1997 and 2008.

Woods, 41, certainly looked healthy at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas, and wielded his driver with the freedom and power of yesteryear, but one tournament does not make a successful comeback.

He has revealed few specifics of his back operations or his rehabilitation, but his most recent spinal fusion surgery seems to have been successful, judging by his movement and swing patterns.

He finished equal ninth out of 18 competitors on Sunday, 10 shots behind winner Rickie Fowler, his best result in four years and certainly most respectable for a man who had not played a competitive round for 10 months.

MEDIOCRE CHIPPING

Even more positively, his swing seemed more powerful and reminiscent of the old Tiger on Sunday than it did on Thursday, suggesting he was not disguising any pain or function issues.

But his chipping was mediocre and he did finish only mid-pack, so let's not expect miracles in 2018 from a man nearly 10 years removed from his most recent Major championship win, and four-plus years from any victory.

He needs to win four more Majors to match Jack Nicklaus' record of 18, which even his most optimistic fans must acknowledge is out of reach.

More realistic is the chance to become the most winning player in US PGA Tour history. Woods stands on 79 victories, three behind Sam Snead.

Simple mathematics - 15-odd chances a year to add to his tally, as opposed to four in the Majors - suggests that is far more achievable. For now, Woods appeared glad to be back in his outdoor office.

"When I was struggling with my back, the world seemed very small," he said. - REUTERS

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