Tiger Woods Returns Determined After Back Injury

Photo courtesy of Tim Hipps, Wikipedia

Tiger Woods is back.

After taking a 15-month hiatus from the game of golf to treat a chronic back injury, Tiger Woods is playing competitive golf for the first time since the Wyndham Championship in August of 2015.

Woods finished tied for 10th in that championship, but was battling through a back injury at the time.

For his first competitive golf appearance in over a year, Woods will compete in the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas. He is slated to tee off at noon today.

Woods has been battling through several injuries over the last several years; his last major victory, which came in 2008 at the U.S. Open, he battled through a hefty knee injury. He famously won the major in a playoff round against Rocco Mediate, hobbling throughout Torrey Pines, sometimes screaming in pain and falling to the course after shots.

With that victory, the question transferred from “Will Tiger beat Jack Nicklaus” to “When will Tiger beat Jack Nicklaus?”

The 2008 U.S. Open was Woods’ 14th major championship, while Nicklaus won 18 in his illustrious career.

However, he took the rest of 2008 off due to a major knee injury, and despite being named the PGA Player of the Year in 2013, he’s been battling through many other injuries and surgeries, often times returning to the game of golf way too soon.

He also was plagued with his cheating scandal, where he and his then wife, Elin Nordegren, got a divorce after Woods admitted to infidelity.

This time around, Woods was very careful with his rehab, making sure he is able to play several days of golf in a row.

Woods was once the No. 1 ranked golfer in the world – he has held that title on three separate occasions. The most recent was from March 2013 to May 2014. The first time he held that ranking, he was No. 1 from August 1999 to September 2004. The second time it was held from June 2005 to October 2010. He has been ranked the best golfer in the world for a combined 681 weeks, by far more than any golfer ever.

Today, he ranks 898th.

He sure did not look like the 898th best golfer in the world yesterday, though, as he shot a -2 in a practice round as part of preparation for the Hero World Challenge.

Woods spent time golfing with former New York Yankees Derek Jeter and Tino Martinez this week, but the competition will start to get a lot tougher.

Golfers like Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy have been dubbed as the next Tiger Woods, but the 14-time major champion is hoping to get back to old form before someone claims his spot as “the next Tiger.”

It seems like Woods has little to zero shot at catching Nicklaus’ record, but one thing that helps his cause is that Nicklaus’ 18th major, and arguably his most famous, came at the age of 46 at the 1986 Masters.

Woods is 40. Nicklaus won two majors, his 16th and 17th, at the age of 40.

Phil Mickelson is 46. He won the Masters two months shy of his 40th birthday. He won the U.S. Open and British Open at the young age of 43.

Tiger Woods is not ready to give up on majors just yet. He admitted that there was a time where he thought he would never play golf again, but now, he hopes he is back and better than ever.