On Friday, Tiger Woods announced he’ll be playing at Augusta National next week in the Masters. A winner of fourteen majors, including four green jackets, it’s not surprising that the announcement generated considerable buzz, especially since it marks Woods’s return to tournament play since taking an indefinite break from golf in February.
But seeing as Woods no longer finds himself among the world’s top 100 golfers, and given his abysmal play and myriad injuries of late, what does Woods’s presence at the Masters offer golf fans other than some sentimental value? Woods is an even-money bet just to make the cut, and frankly, I wouldn’t count on that, either. At 39 years old, Woods can’t overpower the competition with his athleticism anymore, and his putting—which had once been arguably the strongest part of his game—is now fairly average. And with the rust that comes from being away from tournament competition, perhaps anything better than a WD might be a good outcome.
Golf has a number of young stars: Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, and Jason Day are all under 30 and in the top 5 of the world rankings. But to the casual fan, Tiger Woods is still the biggest name. In his prime, Woods was dominant, and the same can’t be said about any of the top players currently. McIlroy seems to have the potential, especially following a fantastic 2014, but it remains to be seen whether he can really become Tiger-esque.
One thing is for certain, though: the Tiger of 2015 is not the Tiger you remember. Maybe it’s time to move on.
EDIT: It’s Sunday morning and Tiger Woods finds himself tied for fifth on the leaderboard. Looks like I’ll be having crow for lunch. Still, Jordan Spieth leads the field by four strokes, and McIlroy is tied with Woods at -6. Two out of three ain’t bad, right?