If you've been wondering why you haven't heard much from the golf world lately, it's perhaps due to a few reasons: 1) The NBA Finals (Go Spurs!); 2) The World Cup (Go USA!); and 3) The absence of Tiger Woods.
Whether one appreciates Tiger Woods for the elite athlete he is or not, everyone has to admit that golf is a much more entertaining sport when he is on the green. Before teeing off at the Quicken Loans National at Congressional Country Club on Thursday, it had been 3 months, or 109 days, since Woods had last competed against golf's best due to surgery on a pinched nerve in his back. And boy, did it show.
Woods started the day in a group with Jason Day and Jordan Spieth, two current top-ten ranked golfers in the world. With a grouping of such high caliber, one would expect Woods to elevate his game and shine. However, it seemed to be quite the opposite - Woods bogeyed the first two holes, as did his two partners.
"I think the hard part was just getting into the rhythm of playing competitively. You play with your buddies for cash and it's just not the same. It's not the same as tournament golf. Different level. It unfortunately took a while to get the feel for it. You saw the putt I hit on 11 was awful. I left it 10, 12 feet short. My feels were off," stated Woods.
— Jordan Spieth (@JordanSpieth) June 27, 2014
The rough start on the first two holes would trend through the front nine and through the first two holes of the turn, with Woods bogeying seven of the first 12 holes. In the last six, however, Woods would finally find his groove, birdieing three of the last six holes.
"He said it was a little different starting out and he finally found his rhythm and we saw what happens when he found his rhythm," Spieth commented.
While he finished the day with a three over par 74, Woods was still happy with his overall performance: "The score is not really indicative of how I played. I had four up-and-downs right there on 15 through 18. I had an easy pick on 2, don't get that up-and-down and a wedge in my hand on 3 and I jerk it in the bunker."
Perhaps most importantly, Woods was satisfied with his health: "The back's great. I had no issues at all. No twinges, no nothing. It felt fantastic."
Staggering how the return of Tiger Woods from injury has such a positive effect on golf - we need another icon though, who's it gonna be?!
— Matt Blackey (@mjb_1971) June 27, 2014
Despite his poor performance on Thursday, both fans and professional golfers alike are excited for Tiger's return, with even Ernie Els (the man who has finished second to Woods more than any other golfer) commenting, "It's good to have him back, man."
Image via YouTube