In case you needed a break after that preposterous Ryder Cup, well, you aren’t getting one. Tiger Woods is returning to action next week at the Safeway Open. Or he “hopes” to, at least, as he said in a statement last month.
There were a lot of rumors at the Ryder Cup that Woods was possibly hedging with the word “hopes,” but one golfer who has played with him recently thinks he’s going to come back stronger than ever.
“I see Tiger at the Medalist. We talk and have played nine holes together,” Jesper Parnevik told Golf Digest. “By the way, he’s been hitting a lot of balls, and he’s hitting it great. He’s pounding it a mile and flushing everything. On the range, at least, his trajectory and ball flight are like the Tiger we knew 15 years ago. Comebacks are never a sure thing, but something tells me his might be spectacular.”
I walked next to Woods for most of the Ryder Cup, where he was a vice captain, and he appears fit as ever. Granted, he wasn’t swinging clubs or beating balls, but he looked strong and seemed spry (although the chinstrap beard could use some work). He also sounded like someone intent on extending his career and not resorting to just being a figurehead for future U.S. teams.
“For me, as a player that’s been on these teams, to be on a different side of it, to be on the vice captaincy side of it has meant so much to me,” said Woods on Sunday after the U.S. won its first Ryder Cup since 2008. “To get to know these guys on a different level and to know how hard a job it is to do this. What the vice captains and the captain ultimately have to decide; it’s tough. And as a player, all you have to do is get ready for the golf course. Just go out there and try and have your game and be ready when called upon.”
I’m bullish on the back end of Woods’ career. Maybe just because I want to be. Can you imagine a 47-year-old Tiger Woods battling a 30-year-old Jordan Spieth for major championships? I get giddy just thinking about that. I’m also concerned — concerned that one more injury could be the very end of the road for Woods at the age of 40.
Think about if Phil Mickelson had been forced to hang up his spikes at the age of 40. Think about missing out on the last six years of Mickelson’s career. That’s not a reality I’m prepared for with Woods, and one I hope does not come to fruition. If Parnevik is correct, it hopefully won’t be one we have to deal with for a long time.