PGA Tour veterans are intrigued by Tiger Woods' latest comeback attempt
Ernie Els, Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson all spoke about Big Cat this week
(again) for the Hero World Challenge in late November and early December, and that means everyone has an opinion on how it's going to go. I mean ... everyone. That includes PGA Tour pros who are just as intrigued by the idea of Woods playing in 2018 as any of us are.
Justin Rose, Henrik Stenson, Ernie Els, Bubba Watson and Graeme McDowell all had press conferences this week at various tournaments all over the world, and they all had something to say about Woods, who has not played competitively since the beginning of 2017. Here's a sampling.
"I think from my point of view, to expect him to come out and win and compete immediately, is maybe unrealistic. But I think that is just fantastic for the golf world to see him back healthy and out of pain.
"For me, that's the biggest thing for him and he can build on that. And no doubt, knowing Tiger, it will take him a week or two or three of feeling good for him to start thinking that he can achieve some fantastic things again. But step one for him is being out of pain and enjoying the game of golf and he can definitely build on that."
"Yeah, definitely, it will be great to see him back. He's been the top player to play our game and what he's done for the game, it's been amazing. It will be good fun to see him back out competing again, and like Justin said, the No. 1 thing is to be healthy. You can't compete with the best players in the world if you're not healthy, so that's the first step. And obviously feels like he's there and ready to start competing again.
"So we welcome him back and yeah, it's going to be a bit of a journey to be back in good form. He's been away from the game for quite some time and it's hard to go from just practising to being competitive at the highest level. But he's someone that you never want to count out. I'm going to follow it like everyone else."
"Well, obviously, when Tiger Woods says he's going to play again, how would you not love it? You talked about history right there in front of you. The history of Tiger Woods and the history of the game of golf. You always want your legends to keep playing, you know. It's a sad day when they hang it up. So for him to get back and being healthy enough to get back, how would you not?
"We should all be thrilled to see a great champion like that show up and be able to play again, not just from a health standpoint, but also from the game of golf. I mean, he's changed the face of golf as much as anybody and grown the game of golf as much as anybody."
"Listen, everyone's excited. I think we're all very thankful to Tiger Woods for the PGA Tour we play today. From a financial and exposure and media and all of the above, really. I think we're all really intrigued to see what short of shape he'll be in physically when he comes back. So we're all intrigued, and we're all excited to get him back out here on the PGA Tour, doing what he does best, bringing fans in, bringing the attention in, and creating the buzz that he always has done.
"You get the sense he really wants to get back to old Tour life, week in and week out, Els told PGATour.com. "But let's be reasonable and hopefully he is also reasonable. I know he wants to come with an attitude of I want to win and compete but I think a top 30, making a cut, getting comfortable are all good early goals in this case. You can work yourself up from there.
"The public should also look at it that way. It is certainly going to be great to see him back in the arena and just take it for that and worry about the rest down the road. Let it just start flowing. Let him get comfortable out there again. Things have changed out here and let's see how he adapts his game to the new body."
"We have seen it through the years. A lot of guys have won majors in their 40s. It's proven. It's there. It's a fact. And Tiger is one of the best. If myself, Phil (Mickelson), Vijay (Singh), Darren Clarke ... if we can do it he can certainly do it."
That's an interesting way to look at it and one that has a little punch considering it's coming from one of the best players of his generation and a guy who won an Open in his 40s. It's probably still a little (or a lot) early to talk about Woods even competing, much less winning majors, but all eyes will be on the Bahamas come late November. Yours, mine and even those of Woods' peers.
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