The golf season is entering the equivalent of an international break for the Premier League.
The European Tour season finished with a Matthew Fitzpatrick flurry, the PGA season is already nine tournaments deep (sorry, what?!) and starting Masters build up five months prior would be daft even for thesportsblog.
So what’s going on at the moment?
Well, Jordan Spieth is already a winner on tour, thanks to four clutch birdies in his final eight holes – including the Playoff – at the Australian Open, Denmark just won the World Cup of Golf (again, what??), and finally, the Zurich Classic has changed its format to a pairs competition to show that the PGA isn’t completely residing in the Mesozoic era.
Oh yeah, and the small matter of the 898th ranked player coming back to Professional golf after a year long absence.
(That’s Tiger Woods by the way).
His return seems to have split the golf world in two.
One half (e.g. Golf Digest, and any other American media company) seems to be salivating having any kind of Tiger back no matter how much of a hatchet job the surgeons – twice – did with his back. The fact that he made two eagles on the front nine in the Pro-Am has put the hype into overdrive…
Conversely, the other side seems a bit apprehensive to let Woods return to the limelight so effortlessly just because he has returned to competitive tournament mode. Tiger deserves all the respect he is due for his fairway-sized trophy cabinet, however are we just a bit over Tiger?
His talk of ‘reps’ with short game, ‘vulnerability’ with his swing after pulling out of the Safeway Open 3 months ago, and how any extra wins would be ‘gravy’ if he came back, are mind-bendingly annoying. This is ‘automated Tiger’ whose goal is merely to get through the interview or press conference.
Tiger critics would put forward the case that surely it is the youth of the game that deserve the focus of the golf world. Rory v Patrick at the Ryder Cup, Jimmy Walker at Baltusrol and Dustin Johnson’s player-of-the-year season, must be more relevant and noteworthy?
But then, it happens.
That chip on the 16th at The Masters just happens to pop up…
Then you realise that nobody has played the game like Tiger. And nobody ever will again.
Suddenly it is Saturday evening, your covered in salt and vinegar crisps remnants and glued to the coverage of The Hero Challenge. Salivating as you let the commentators pick through Woods’ game like a brain surgeon, hoping for a glimpse of the old Tiger.
Because that is what we will forever be hoping he becomes; The Old Tiger. In our eyes, he can’t just try and win tournaments. He has to become The Old Tiger.
That is no easy feat.
In reality, if he tries to do that he won’t have a chance to keep up with the Jordan Spieth’s of this world. Tiger must adapt to his 41 (!) year old body by playing like a 41 year old.
Will there be 270 yard carries over water to make the impossible par 5 in two? He’ll probably have to leave that to Bubba’s 7 iron.
But maybe, just maybe, he will find that short game touch and putting focus.
Or maybe he won’t.
One thing is for sure though, we’ll definitely be watching.