Tiger Woods just finished tied for 9th at -8 against 17 of the top 32 players in the world in the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas. This was his first top 10 finish since 2015.
Out of these 17 top players in the world, eight are under the age of 30, and five of these players have won majors too. Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, and Rickie Fowler were just a few of the big names headlining this tournament.
Yes, there were only 18 players in this tournament, but Tiger played three very solid rounds and ended the tournament on a high note shooting 68 on Sunday. Saturday was his worst round as he shot a 75, but this came on a day where the entire field struggled and no one shot better than 70.
Current State of Golf
Tiger is no longer the best golfer in the world, and he is going to have to beat the new wave of players to reclaim his throne. That is what makes Tigers return so exciting. There is a new wave of young stars like Jordan Spieth (24), Justin Thomas (24), Jon Rahm (23), Brooks Koepka (27), Hideki Matsuyama (24), and Rickie Fowler (28) that all sit in his way.
Golf is coming off one of its best years in quite while with three first time major winner: Sergio Garcia, Brooks Koepka, and Justin Thomas. Even with a great core of young players that are dominating the sport, the Masters and PGA Championship had their worse ratings since 2004 and 2008 respectively. There is no doubt that youngsters are here to stay, but the sport is struggling with TV ratings.
The reason why Tiger’s return can energize the golf community is because it is his chance to prove he is the best player of all-time.
The Race to 18
Tiger is no doubt a top 3 player of all-time, and he has the chance to be the best to ever play. He has the most PGA Tour wins of all-time at 79, but he is 4 majors behind the great Jack Nicklaus (18).
If Tiger won one more major, it would be an incredible feat with his injury history and his off-course issues. But could you imagine if he got to 18 and tied Jack Nicklaus?
Nicklaus won three majors in his 40s, and eclipsing this feat would cement Tiger as the greatest golfer of all-time.
With younger players dominating majors last year (Spieth, Thomas, Koepka), there still are several other players like Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia, Justin Rose, Jason Day, and Rory McIlroy who are all top 20 players in the world. Tiger is going to have to play like he did in the early 2000s to beat all these guys.
But Tiger’s most intriguing competition is going to be Jordan Spieth. Jordan Spieth is 24, and he already has 3 major wins. Spieth joined the likes of Jack Nicklaus (23), Bobby Jones (24), Rory McIlroy (26), Gary Player (26), and of course Tiger Woods (24) for youngest players to reach 3 major victories with his win at legendary winner at Royal Birkdale this summer.
With Spieth’s similar career start, a major Sunday with them two in the final pairing would capture the attention of the entire sports world.
For your loyal golf fans, there is absolutely nothing to complain about. But if Tiger returns to his old form, he will bring in all the casual fans of golf especially on major weekends.
TV ratings aren’t the end of the world, and they probably are not the best measurement for where the game of golf is at. But higher ratings does nothing but help the game, and Tiger Woods will undoubtedly bring higher ratings.
Tiger has beat Hall of Famers and legends like Tom Watson, Greg Norman, Bernhard Langer, Fred Couples, Ernie Els, Jim Furyk, Retief Goosen, Vijay Singh, Davis Love III, and Phil Mickelson. Now Tiger has the chance to beat the new wave of best in players in world.
Twenty-two players have won a major after the age of 42, and Tiger is looking to do the same as he turns 42 on December 30.