Since Tiger Woods is ticking off the boxes on ‘coming back’, the big one that remains is the one about ‘Coming back to win’.
Tiger Woods is back. Well, he was back playing competitive golf two months ago in December at his own event, the Hero World Challenge; and then on the PGA Tour last week. And, now he is in Dubai, where he has played seven times before, and won twice.
Since he is ticking off the boxes on ‘coming back’, the big one that remains is the one about ‘Coming back to win’.
With the Masters just 60-odd day away, the 64-million dollar question is, “Is Tiger ready to add to his collection of 14 majors?”.
Here in Dubai, he took questions on a variety of subjects ranging from fitness and preparedness to Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal and Serena Williams; to how much he misses travelling around the world; and finally to US President Donald Trump’s golf game! That was a lot of distance in 20 minutes.
One thing that is unlikely to change is Tiger’s hunger to win. “If I can’t prepare to win a golf tournament, I feel ill-prepared to hit the shots and handle the shots down the stretch, and I’m not able to pull them off at home, there’s no reason why I should expect to be able to pull them off out here,” said Tiger ahead of the Dubai Desert Classic, which he was forced out of ahead of the second day.
It is no secret that the golf world smiles when Tiger plays, so has he ever reflected on what he means to the game and whether it is a scary thought? Tiger thought for a moment. “You know, I try not to go down that path, because I like to consider myself a player and a guy that is playing out here and competing.
“I know I’ve been away from it for a long period of time.… as far as the golfing side of it, I know I’ve accomplished some pretty neat things over the course of my career so far, and I hope I can continue.”
Considering how he loved travelling to Japan, Japan, New Zealand, Asia and elsewhere and now with his need to save his body for big events, will he still play as much?
Pat comes the reply, “Absolutely. Absolutely. I’ll be around — I love playing around the world. I love seeing other cultures. I have so many friends that are around the world that I’ve gotten to know over these years.
“Quite frankly, I haven’t been able to travel much. I’ve been home in Florida for basically almost two years now. Not really travelling much because I really can’t. Now I’m going to be able to start doing that and I would like to start playing around the world but again, it will be a limited schedule. I won’t be playing a high number of events. I’ve got to be ready to peak four times a year.
“One of the reasons why I’m playing four out of five here is to get more competitive rounds so that come the first full week in April, I’ll have more rounds under my belt and know what it feels like to be ready.”
Finally, can there be any discussion these days, and more so in golf, without reference to Donald Trump. How does Tiger compare Trump with Barack Obama in golf?
Tiger said, “For a person who is 70 years old, I mean, he (Trump) hits it hard. He really goes at it.
“I can understand how he can play and be a low handicap (the US President plays off a handicap of 3) player. But I think he might be a little bit more busy now, I don’t think he’ll be getting as many rounds in. That handicap might start screeching up a little bit.”
He added, “I have played with President Obama, and we had a great time. We played at the Floridian, right there just north of my house, and just had a great day.”