What is the "Tiger is back" threshold?


#1

Been giving this some thought. Have there been two words in the English language more closely tied together than “Tiger” and “Back”? Between his back injury, back surgery, back to rehab, and he’s BACK on tour(!!1!one!), it’s kind of incredible.

But let’s have a discussion about what would qualify as “back” in the sense that his return to form is a semblance of what we all remember…or maybe not.

For me, while I think it is wholly unrealistic to expect him to have the types of years where he wins 6+ times ever again, it was only five years ago in 2013 that he won 5 times, including The Players. Even that seems like a significant stretch, but it’s just hard to say that would be impossible, you know? His competitive streak is so primal that if he puts it all together…

Given his age, the competitive landscape, the venues, and the pressure he must feel, I’d say 3 wins this year means Tiger is “back.” 1 win would be great, not surprising, but possibly a flash in the pan, 2 wins would be shocking, and 3+ would mean he’s getting back into the type of form where he could have an entire second (third?) career in his 40s. With how many players are competitive into that age group over the years, 3 wins signals that we are in for a major thrill.

I’m curious where you guys fall on this. Is one win enough to declare him “back?” Is it more than 3? Does it change your opinion if its just 1 win, but that win is a major?


#2

From where I’m sitting the threshold is less about wins and more about “compete level” - is he in the mix in world class events on a regular basis? Many will be quick to declare him "back with the first top five or top ten, or a win in an event like Wyndham or Bay Hill. However, I’d put a couple top-fives in majors above a win in an also-ran event.

V curious to see how he builds out his schedule. In 2015 he played Wyndham and Greenbrier, both of which suited his cobbled-together game at that point and were less dependent upon length. I’m keen to see this trend continue, with Travelers, John Deere, Valspar, and even Heritage added to the schedule. Watching him hit stingers around Harbour Town for four days and getting surgical would be a bucket list spectating experience for hardcore golf fans.

Heck, maybe even give him a spot in Zurich and let him team up with NO-tah. Bottom line, he’s on the outside looking in with WGC’s but needs #reps, so let’s get him augmenting his schedule in a creative fashion and offering some respite to many of the tournaments he skipped each year during his prime.


#3

According to the PGA Tour Live crew, he’s either back or “a work in progress” from one swing to the next. They’re so eager to espouse these prophetic, absolute declarations based on one shot. He rips a stinger off the second tee and Kratzert goes “this version is much better.” Better than what man? Or he flies the second green and they jump on him for still struggling with his wedge distance control.

I understand that expectations are high for him considering his CV, but it sucks it’s impossible for him to just ease his way back into the game.

The pressure on him (obviously well chronicled) must be enormous. The fact that he’s been able to succeed in spite of it is beyond comprehension.


#4

not “back” until he actually wins.
which won’t happen in 2018 unfortunately.


#5

If he’s making cuts, he’s “back” to me because I don’t expect him to dominate the game like he did before. No one has ever dominated like that and he’s in his 40s now with a deeper and wider talent pool of opponents.

Tiger doesn’t need to be the hero / winner of the stories that will unfold this year and beyond for me to enjoy his return. So long as he is not the tragic jester sidelined by poor decisions and a failing body, I love having him back. He’s an amazing character with a riveting backstory and you can’t look away when he’s on your screen.


#6

Yes to Big Cat @ Harbour Town


#7

Imagine that with a twinkle in his eye and that dead cold stare through an opponent.


#8

I too am less concerned about wins and more anxious to see him contending with solid rounds. I am anxious to see how he performs leading up to and during Augusta. Let’s face it, even with all the talent in the current game, he moves the needle unlike anyone else. The casual fan is tuning in to see how he plays, people like my 90 year old grandmother who has never played or cared for the game. Unfortunately for like minded refugees, we will have to deal with this through the season.


#9

tenor


#10

Tiger’s always had this air of destiny about him, and for me this tale of redemption has a 2018 major in it. To @Tron’s point, I think he’ll craft his calendar to make tactical runs at the majors (as he always has) and I think he wins one. That’s the bar to clear before he’s “back.” I can’t see this movie ending without one.


#11

I want Tiger to win again but right now I consider him being back to getting through the season healthy and playing a good amount.


#13

As a rational Tiger fan it’s great to have Tiger back healthy and competing again… but that’s the only rational ‘back’ that we’ll be seeing from him moving forward. I think he could potentially contend in a few lower SOF events, and perhaps top-out by even contending in some of the bigger SOF (non-major) events on tour, but winning again for Tiger is more a romantic dream. Based on what Tiger has revealed to us, the fundamental flaws in the swing mechanics he’s created (I think he’s mixing too many past swing elements and concepts creating a ‘jack-of-all-trades’ type swing), the level and depth of talent and fields he faces today, the level of mental demons and uncertainty he’s battling and the fact he’s lost any competitive aura he may have had as the talented youth today are immune to it and him as they’re from a different and stronger / more professional era and are just as competitive and fearless as Tiger himself back in his heyday as a young talent. Tiger winning again, certainly this year (based on the factors mentioned above), is nothing but a romantic dream that so many are carrying inside and pushing on to Tiger.

Sometimes when the ‘greats’ fall, regardless of the natural talent they once possessed, even they struggle to recover - take Seve for an example.


#14

Hard criteria to determine, its one of the these, not all of these IMO:

  • 3 wins
  • 1 major
  • climbing back into the top 50 in the OWGR (if he can play the schedule he wants in 2019 (WGC’s) then he is back

#15

I think I will judge him as back if he is able to do enough to qualify for Ryder Cup team this year on points.


#16

All of these experts coming out of the wood works. Who can say, with even an inkling of certainty, how Tiger will perform the remainder of this season and beyond?

The sample size of his performance is so unbelievably small. If we are using that logic, then Spieth is done for good as he is 193rd in Strokes Gained Putting. Rory has no shot as he is averaging a 5-putt every third round and is yet to make a cut this year - a feat Tiger has already accomplished at one of the most challenging tracks all season. If we are using these samples, I am betting on Tiger every single week.

Tiger is BACK because he is playing and making cuts. What he has in store for us in terms of accomplishments is yet to be realized.

Let’s not forget, similar to the likes of Michael Phelps and Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods is one of the greatest sports competitors of all time. He is thinking about winning every time he tees it up - not his “demons” or the waitress at Perkins down the street.


#17

But…in one sentence, he’s “back because he’s making cuts” and in another he’s one of the all-time great champions of sport alongside Phelps, Jordan. IMO that just doesn’t compute for Tiger.
I’d argue he’s "“back” when he’s winning majors simply because he’s in that echelon with Jordan, Phelps, Ali, Federer. We wouldn’t be excited about Phelps just making the Olympic team, would we? No. We’d be excited when he won another gold. Anything else is just Jerry Rice in Seahawks uniform, which was incredibly depressing.


#18

Lazstradamus, I agree with your central point…

Back in 2008 when Tiger won his last major I thought for sure he would break the record for most PGA Tour wins and Jack’s 18 majors record… no one, and I’m mean no one ever imagined Tiger wouldn’t win another major again. It was unthinkable really.

Today, 10 years later Tiger still hasn’t broken either of these records and as much as it pains me to admit it, I now believe both records are now safe, without doubt Jack’s 18 majors record. And based on this reality I don’t think we can rightly place Tiger next to Federer, Jordan, Ali, Phelps as ‘Sporting Gods’ anymore. If anyone is ‘Golf’s Sporting God’ is can only be Jack with his holy-grail 18 major record and the longevity he possessed to win these majors across his 20s, 30s & 40s over a crazy 25 year period.

As I’ve got older sadly I’ve become more of a realist. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love Tiger to prove me wrong but what’s compelling now about Tiger isn’t his standard of play (there are so many actively better players today hitting all sorts of ‘magical’ shots), but it’s the romance of the story of Tiger trying to pick himself backup and win majors again and dominate todays young guns… in a nutshell… it’s about ‘hope’ that we so desperately want to see for Tiger which is ultimately about ‘hope’ for ourselves.


#19

My point regarding the comparison to all time sport greats isn’t attached to the theory of him being back. The presence of “facts” stated in this thread that he won’t win again is where the comparison to all time sport greats comes in. He has something that very very few people have - something you cannot put your hands around. To think he is all but washed up seems unbelievably bold given the minuscule sample size we have.

Being realistic is all fine and well. Maybe it’s the best way to go as there is only upside and no disappointment.

If we are considering Tiger being BACK as the dominant Tiger of old, I’d have to take back my previous statement and position along the lines of others in this thread. He needs to be contending in multiple majors per year.

The comparison to Jerry Rice made my heart hurt - feels all too real. Can’t imagine this man will allow himself to become a gimmick.


#20

-1 thru 1…

HE’S BACK!!!


#21

The importance of driving cannot be overstated… on Tiger’s 2nd hole he made a Double Bogey on a Par 5 due to his dreadful driving - and then ANOTHER Bogey brought on by ANOTHER poor drive the very next hole. He simply can’t and won’t compete if he continues to drive this poorly.