Tiger Woods may be demolishing the ball again (per Rickie Fowler) ahead of his much-anticipated return to competitive golf in two weeks at the 18-player, no-cut Hero World Challenge, and Sergio Garcia believes the Big Cat’s comeback will be good for the game.
But the reigning Masters champion is hedging his bets about how successful his old nemesis will be after a nine-month hiatus following Woods’ fourth back surgery.
"Obviously having [Woods] for golf is great; we all know that and whoever doesn't agree is not telling the truth," Garcia said during a conference call with reporters ahead of this week’s DP World Tour Championship. "It's going to be interesting to see. I think at the end of the day, anything that can help the game of golf is good for us and hopefully he can make it, but we'll just have to wait and see.”
Woods last hit a ball that counted in February, when he shot a dreadful first-round 77 before back pain forced him to withdraw from the Dubai Desert Classic. The former No. 1 and soon-to-be 42-year-old will enter the tournament, which is hosted by his foundation, ranked 1,189th in the world.
After Woods underwent four back procedures in three years, it’s hardly a surprise that he makes his way back to the course as an enigma about how he will fare. After all, we have been down this path before with Tiger, whose most recent comeback bid began at last year’s Hero, where he finished 15th out of 17 players after impressing observers with his stellar play on his home course, and ended shortly thereafter in the Middle East.
So you’ll have to excuse Garcia if he’s not fully convinced that a rusty, surgically repaired Woods will have what it takes to contend against the top young golfers in the world.
"I think that's a big question mark that we all have,” Garcia said. “He’s going to play in a couple of weeks, and we'll see how he feels.”
Garcia wonders about the totality of Woods’ health.
"Nobody knows how he's going to physically react to playing and competing again; nobody knows how he's going to be mentally,” Garcia observed. "I guess it's going to be a test for him to see how he feels ... In a couple of weeks, we'll see how he does, and then we'll see if he can come back next year and start playing a little bit more regularly.”
Meanwhile, Garcia swinging Callaway clubs at the World Tour Championship is a pretty good sign that he will switch from TaylorMade to Phil Mickelson’s gear of choice:
I think it’s safe to say Sergio Garcia is signing with Callaway. I Apex MB irons and an Epic driver. pic.twitter.com/GwsyAWVTrE— Jonathan Wall (@jonathanrwall) November 15, 2017
After a particularly good year during which he won his first major title at Augusta in April, Sergio entered the European Tour’s season-ending tourney claiming he would not be disappointed if he failed to win the Race to Dubai title.
With a second-round 3-under 69 to go with an opening 70 at Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai, Garcia played his way into a share of 15th place and heads to the weekend at 3-under after 36 holes — just two shots back of frontrunner Matthew Fitzpatrick.