Tiger Woods Roars Back Woods Shows He's Not Ready to Leave the Stage

Tiger Woods: Most athletes with an injury history as long and painful as Tiger Woods’ would already be enjoying retirement. But as he demonstrated at last week’s Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas, Woods refuses to exit the stage quietly – defying both the pain and the golf free picks that doubted he could come back competitive.

In his first tournament in nearly eight months after ankle surgery in April, the 15-time major champion proved that his desire to compete remains fierce and that his game can still hold up with the world’s best, even if only in flashes.

Promising Signs After a Tumultuous Year

Woods shot an up-and-down even par over four rounds at Albany Golf Club, finishing 18th out of 20 golfers. His final round on Sunday encapsulated both the promise and rustiness in his game: He carded five birdies, including a long putt on the fifth hole, but also a double bogey on the second and three bogeys.  

Overall, Woods averaged a solid 305 yards off the tee, evidencing the continued strength of his long game. More importantly, his battered body withstood walking 72 holes just months after he described experiencing “constant pain” at the Masters.

“I’ve come a long way from being a little bit rusty to playing four days and knocking off a lot of rust, which was great,” Woods told Golf Channel. “The physicality of actually playing and competing again – I haven’t done this in a while. It was nice to get out there with the guys and have some fun and compete.”

Tiger Woods: Setting the Stage for an Active 2023

For Woods, the next test comes at the PNC Championship in mid-December, where he’ll play alongside his son Charlie for the fourth straight year. From there, his plan is to ramp up his schedule in 2023, teeing off about once a month on the PGA Tour with hopes of appearing at the Genesis Invitational in February, the Players Championship in March, and even the Masters in April.  

“Once a month seems reasonable, and it gives me a couple of weeks to recover, a week to tune up,” Woods noted. “Maybe I can get into the rhythm of something like that. That’s what the plan was going into next year. I don’t see why that would change.”

Scottie Scheffler, who won the Hero World Challenge by three strokes, said Woods could easily hang up his clubs given all he’s already accomplished. But true to form, the 82-time PGA Tour winner forges on defiantly.

The Fire Still Burns  

Seeing the iconic red-and-black-clad Woods walking the fairways clearly thrilled the next generation of golfers. “It was very special,” Scheffler said. “I could see him down the fairway in front of me, and to me he looks the same as he always has with his uniqueness in the golf swing.”  

That uniqueness produced transcendent genius in his prime as Woods dominated golf for over a decade, and glimpses of his greatness persist even now. More majors likely remain beyond the 47-year-old given how severely injuries have truncated his last decade.

But to Woods, the fire remains lit to compete with today’s rising talents. If 2022 showed anything, it’s that writing him off remains as foolish now as ever before. For the world’s most famous golfer, the final chapter remains unwritten.

The Defiant Champion

“He continues to come back and wants to compete and he continues to do what’s best for the players and the PGA Tour,” Scheffler remarked. “It’s pretty inspirational for the rest of us involved in the game.”

Other all-time greats like Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player never endured the physical trials Woods has. And his trove of records and accolades has long ago cemented his legacy.

Woods would have every right to hang up his clubs and spend his days relaxing with family instead of gritting through grueling rehabs. But that competitive fire clearly still rages.  

Seeing this icon – who revolutionized the sport with his transcendent dominance – defiantly strive to recapture past glories proves more inspirational with each unlikely comeback.

For the man who’s spent nearly 1,200 weeks ranked No. 1, who knows how many more Sundays he has left? But Tiger Woods doesn’t act like someone ready to stroll gently into the sunset – he still has major championships and new records to chase, just like any hungry young golfer looking to make a name for themselves or bettors looking forward to placing their next wager on a sportsbook in Canada.