Tiger Woods is back. The will he, won’t he saga has proven a lot over the course of the Hero World Challenge. He performed well over the four days and most importantly, there looked like no signs of back injury. The world of golf can rest.
Whilst many fans of the great man went to Twitter to express their glee at his return, we should also note that those watching the humble telly also increased during the event. Over in the States, the Golf Channel has reported a massive level of interest in his return.
As Tiger approached the tee and the excitement grew, it was the Golf Channel that benefited revealing that the opening round of the Hero World Challenge was the most-watched opening round since The Open. Not bad for an 18 man, no cut exhibition event. The good news didn’t end there either. Over 2 million tuned into Saturday’s coverage and 7.4 minutes were streamed online. Other than The Players and the Majors, this was the most watched tournament of the year in terms of streaming.
So Tiger’s impact has certainly made its mark. Betting odds tumbled as punters (perhaps in haste) placed their bets on Tiger winning the 2018 Masters. He went from 100/1 to 15/1 by the end of Friday. All of this based on a tournament that only had 18 players.
Tiger Mania is certainly in the air. The only thing is that perhaps the sheer excitement of it all has clouded judgement. It’s great to see him back it really is. It’s fantastic to see him in competition but let’s take a few moments to really think.
One tournament won’t really change anything. He played at the Hero World Challenge last year after a hefty lay off. His return was, however, short-lived. Whilst completing the Hero he then fell quickly. A missed cut at the Farmer Insurance and then the withdrawal at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic. The positive thing at this year’s Hero World Challenge is that the niggling back issues appear to be resolved. He’s playing without pain.
Tiger also has another issue to tackle. Those pesky kids that he is playing against now and pretty darn good. Rickie Fowler, Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas represent this new generation best. Fowler is arguably one of the best players not to win a major yet torn the course apart on Sunday. His time will come that is for sure but can an ageing Tiger Woods keep up?
Questions are still to be answered when it comes to Woods return but the signs are positive. For him personally, his back looks in good shape and he can compete. The desire to win is still clearly there for all to see. For the ratings, it is also good as many tuned in to watch. However, before we all pass judgement on whether or not he is truly back, let’s see him in a real tournament. Only then will we know for sure. It’s exciting, it’s happening but let’s be patient.