Beyond the Bison: Tiger Woods’ mighty return to the 2018 Masters

Patrick Dempsey, Staff Writer

Before undergoing his fourth back surgery, an interior lumbar interbody infusion, in April 2017, Tiger Woods had to be helped out of bed every day for the better part of six months. He did not know if he’d ever get to play golf again, but he credits his return to motivation from his two kids. His daughter Sam, 10, and son Charlie, 9, haven’t seen the dominant golfer he once was. Woods would like to change that.

Woods has not played a full year of golf in top form since 2009, before he crashed his SUV into a tree and a fire hydrant on Thanksgiving at his home in Windermere, Fla. His personal life unraveled during the weeks that followed. Reports of multiple extramarital affairs surfaced, costing him his marriage and major sponsorship endorsements, and revealing a long road of recovery ahead.

Since then, his performance on the golf course has been anything but consistent, resulting primarily from setbacks regarding his multiple injuries in addition to issues off the course. In May 2017, Woods was arrested in Jupiter, Fla, for driving under the influence after falling asleep at the wheel from the use of painkillers and sleeping pills.

Given how the last nine years have gone, nobody thought Woods would earn a spot to play in the upcoming Masters Tournament. But now that the Masters is less than one week away, Woods is the projected favorite to win the coveted green jacket on Sunday afternoon, April 8, and the excitement is building. People cannot wait for his toughness, talent, and clutch factor to be on display for four days on golf’s biggest stage.

Woods has only played in the Masters once since 2013, but has finished in the top-10 thirteen times throughout his career, winning the tournament four times already. He has a wealth of experience and a long history of play to fall back on, but admits golf is a game where feeling is crucial. It remains to be seen whether Woods can play despite the nagging lower back pain that has prevented him from competing in recent years. Getting comfortable with different types of golf shots and reading greens is something that takes time and a lot of practice. The healthier he is when he plays, the closer he will be to becoming the dominant golfer he once was.

The sport of golf needs Tiger to be Tiger. Featuring a competitive Woods at this year’s Masters would make CBS very happy. The last few years of the PGA Tour has consisted of a cohort of young players that share a similar look and personality, with the likes of Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas. Many of these players are exceptional golfers and are on pace for earning a spot in the Hall of Fame. However, the generation of golfers that like to drink kale smoothies on tournament nights has not drawn golf to as big of an audience as Woods had in his prime. The desire for a shakeup and the infusion of different personalities on the tour is so desperately needed.

Once one of the most dominant athletes of all time, the return of Woods sets up an interesting generational clash for golf. With the charismatic Phil Mickelson playing well as of late, capturing the 2018 WGC-Mexico Championship earlier this month, the old stars will meet the new on April 4.

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