Tiger Woods’ could only be tempted to make his delayed comeback at an event he hosts himself, the 18th Hero World Challenge.
Having been out of action since his 10th place finish at the Wyndham Championship 15 months ago, the 40-year-old will be back in front of the eyes of the golfing world at a tournament he’s won five times.
Woods was due to make his comeback at the Safeway Open last month, but withdrew due to a fragility in his game and, in turn, ruled himself out of the Turkish Airlines Open in the following weeks.
The 14-time major winner is back and, whilst admitting he is nervous, has told ESPN he is prepared.
“I’m not dead. I’m ready to go,” he stated.
Woods currently finds himself 898th in the world rankings but could fire himself back up by merely finishing the event this week.
Finishing last would see Woods rise roughly 150 places, solo 10th could put him up to roughly 550th, solo fifth could find him up almost half to around 450th whilst a second place would break him into the top 250 and a win would rocket him to around 125th in the world. Not bad for a weeks work.
The field for the Hero World Challenge is decided by the winners of the last four major PGA Tour tournaments, the top 11 available from the world rankings, the defending champion and two exemptions chosen by the Tiger Woods Foundation.
This year’s field is just as strong as that formula suggests. The 18-man field consists of six of the world’s top 10 and 10 of the top 20, including the likes of PGA Tour Player of the Year Dustin Johnson, tournament record holder of 26-under-par Jordan Spieth, Race to Dubai winner Henrik Stenson and Woods’ Ryder Cup protégé Patrick Reed.
These will be joined by defending champion Bubba Watson who shot a remarkable 25-under-par to win the event last year when the tournament was first hosted by Albany in the New Province, Bahamas.
The event has been hosted by four different courses, but Albany retains it for the a second year after this event was its first professional event last time out. The par 72 has five par fives, offering eagle chances aplenty for those willing to take on the longer holes.
A $3.5million prize fund doesn’t count towards the FedExCup, despite being recognised as an unofficial money event by the PGA Tour. However, World Ranking Points are awarded and, regardless of a small field, the sheer quality of the entrants means that the points awarded will be very worthwhile.
After a prolonged absence and failed comebacks, perhaps it should be seen as a success for Woods this week to merely sink a putt on the 72nd hole.