As Tiger Woods continues along the comeback trail, his long awaited return date remains unknown even to himself, we got an idea of where his game is at on Monday at Congressional.
Woods was at the Maryland course for a media event promoting the Quicken Loans National tournament and even said that his game was 'progressing nicely'.
That was before the 14-time major champion stepped up to hit a few ceremonial shots at the par there 10th hole which is a 200 + yard shot over water in tournament play. However for the purpose of promoting the event and so the cameras could get shots of Woods hitting balls close to the hole, he was hitting from just 102 yards.
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What ensued was almost beyond belief.
Tiger stepped up and hit three balls within 50 seconds. Every single one landed in the water.
He was wearing a mic and promptly turned to the crowd after his first disastrous attempt saying, “Did you like that one?” Woods said to the crowd. “Can I have another one? Boy was that stiff. Holy cow.”
The second wasn't any better and by the time he was tossed a third ball he was almost hesitant to even hit again. Yet again the ball ended up wet and there was an apprehensive and awkward laughter from the spectators as Woods turned to them to say “See, need a warm up.”
He apparently had not warmed up whatsoever before taking on the shot but for a player of his ability, even coming off an injury, one would expect slightly better.
It has been suggested that Woods could return in time for the US Open at Oakmont next month but following this display, one must wonder if that would be a mistake. Nobody wants to see Tiger return until he is ready to win again, it is sad seeing him playing hurt and unable to compete and this time around he must wait to come back until he is 100% firing.
The former world number one has not played since last August's Wyndham Championship and has had a long recovery after a third back operation in the last two years.
The man himself still harbours hopes of breaking Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 major championships as he made clear at the event: "I think his major championship record is certainly still attainable...it's going to take time to get to that point but hopefully I can get back out here and play to that level."
That level of play is certainly a long way off from what we saw on Monday but everybody in the game of golf would agree that the sport is better off with a fit and firing Tiger Woods and it would be a shame to see him never reach those heights again.
The underlying issue is that his injury is severe and he really has no timetable for his return as he said in his interview: "If I knew I’d tell you...next week or a year from now.”
Woods is clearly hungry to play again but this time around he seems to have a patience about him that his previous forays with injury have not had. He understands the need to recover fully and not take on too much too soon; coming back too early and getting hurt again might just be the end of the line for him and so time is key.
His fanatical training regime has even had to take a step back to enable his recovery and that is a good sign for a man who is nearly as obsessed with fitness as he is with golf. The 40-year-old has not won a major since 2008 but his belief and unrivalled ability when fit, could surely see him reach the dizzying heights of old, even just one more time.
The sight of Woods claiming another major championship after all the struggles he has faced over the past six years, both on and off the course, would be up there with the greatest in sporting history and who would put it past him, he is Tiger Woods after all.
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