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What to expect from Tiger Woods in 2022

Profile Picture: Josh Powell

December 21st, 2021

Tiger is the G.O.A.T of the golfing world, but we haven’t seen him in a PGA Tour event since November 2020, when he posted a top-40 finish at Augusta in the Masters.

The 15-time major winner was involved in a serious car accident in February this year and sustained broken bones and compound fractures in both his legs, and had to undergo some major surgery.

There was an immediate fear that we might not see Tiger on a golf course again. The 45-year-old has already had six back surgeries to alleviate pain and knee surgery, before having to get operated on following the accident. That’s a lot of wear and tear on the body, but Tiger has proved he can come back before. He won the Masters in 2019, just a year after returning from major back surgery, so what can we expect in 2022?

We were lucky enough to see Tiger play in the PNC Championship with his son Charlie this weekend and took a few pointers for the next 12 months.

When will he return?

Tiger admitted that he couldn’t have played at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club if he had to walk. The leg simply isn’t strong enough yet for that. Woods also told reporters that he would never request a cart at a PGA Tour event and if he can’t play at that level.

That indicates a comeback isn’t imminent, and Tiger has already admitted that he doesn’t know how many events he’ll be able to play in going forward. It’s fair to say we won’t see Woods play a full PGA schedule ever again, but we can hope that when the right events come along, that his body is in good enough shape to co-operate.

Masters Tournament 2022

Sun, April 10 2022, 2:54 PM

Rahm, Jon

+900

Spieth, Jordan

+1100

Johnson, Dustin

+1200

Morikawa, Collin

+1200

Thomas, Justin

+1200

McIlroy, Rory

+1400

DeChambeau, Bryson

+1600

Koepka, Brooks

+1600

Schauffele, Xander

+1800

Cantlay, Patrick

+2200

That puts another tilt at The Masters in doubt, as that’s the first major in the calendar, from April 4-10. Woods and Augusta are forever linked — he has five green jackets and finished in the top five another seven times — but a run at it next year looks in doubt, even if the betting is tempting at +4000.

Will he be the Tiger of old?

In short, possibly. Tiger’s short game at the PNC Championship was classic Woods. On Sunday, he rolled in a couple of lovely putts from 10 and 15 feet, and in and around the greens, he looked at ease.

His swing speed also seems up to scratch and not as badly impacted as was rumored after the crash. He out-drove Justin Thomas a couple of times at the tournament, and while we have to take that with a pinch of salt, there was plenty to suggest he hasn’t lost too much off the tee. He’s also reported to have put a new driver and 3-wood in his bag, which suggests he’s tinkering with his game to make sure his swing still pops.

Matt Kuchar suggested after laying alongside Tiger on Sunday that Woods was ready for the PGA Tour. Although Tiger shut that down very quickly, he certainly hasn’t lost the ability that made him the hottest property in golf.

After Sunday’s round, Tiger admitted that he had plenty of work ahead of him, and while he played some nice shots, there was obvious frustration, as he came up short with some irons and smoked it over a couple of greens with others.

Is there a betting angle?

Most bettors are going to want to wait until Tiger gets back playing on the Tour, but for those who like to take an early bet, there’s certainly a way in. Given Tiger’s own admissions, he still feels like he has a significant way to go on his journey of recovery, but looking at the calendar for next year, the U.S. Open (June 16-19) and the Open Championship (July 14-17) could be realistic opportunities.

Open Championship 2022

Sun, July 17 2022, 6:00 AM

Rahm, Jon

+900

Morikawa, Collin

+1200

Spieth, Jordan

+1200

Koepka, Brooks

+1400

McIlroy, Rory

+1400

DeChambeau, Bryson

+1600

Johnson, Dustin

+1600

Thomas, Justin

+1600

Schauffele, Xander

+2000

Oosthuizen, Louis

+2200

If Tiger’s going to make the trip to Scotland, the Open Championship is the one that appeals to me most. The Open Championship returns to St Andrews in Scotland, the home of golf, and it would only be right that the greatest golfer of all time makes a winning return at the oldest golf course in the world.

Tiger won there in 2000 and 2005, with his eight-stroke win in 2000 a post-war record as he demolished the field. It was also at that event Tiger set a record score of 19-under par, which was a record for all major championships, until Jason Day shot 20-under par at the PGA Championship in 2015.   

It may be the romantic in me, but at +3300 it’s worth a bet that Woods returns on the greatest stage to lift the Claret Jug.

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