It wasn’t all that long ago when Tiger Woods appeared to be a shoo-in to break Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 majors. At Torrey Pines in the 2008 U.S. Open, Woods won his 14th major — three more than Walter Hagan — with years of opportunity ahead of him to catch and pass Nicklaus.
Little did we know at the time, but Woods wouldn’t win another major until the 2019 Masters following years of surgeries and off-the-course issues.
Then in February, Woods suffered horrific injuries in a car crash that nearly cost him his leg, leading fans of golf to believe the end of Woods’ professional career had finally arrived. Woods essentially said as much last month in his first interview since the crash, telling Golf Digest that playing on the PGA Tour full time would never happen again.
“I think something that is realistic is playing the tour one day—never full time, ever again—but pick and choose, just like Mr. [Ben] Hogan did. Pick and choose a few events a year and you play around that,” Woods said. “You practice around that, and you gear yourself up for that. I think that’s how I’m going to have to play it from now on. It’s an unfortunate reality, but it’s my reality. And I understand it, and I accept it.”
And then over the weekend, Woods once again had us all to himself with a Sunday round of golf at the PNC Championship. Woods, partnered with his son Charlie, finished second behind two-time major champion John Daly and his son, turning heads on the final 18 holes with a string of 11 consecutive birdies.
It gave golf fans everywhere hope that Woods could one day return to the course while playing at a high level, competing as he has so many times before for yet another major.
You can count Daly in as one who saw enough over the weekend to proclaim that we have yet to see the last of Woods on the golf course.
“I think Tiger’s gonna be fine,” Daly said on “Fox and Friends.” “He looked good. He looked a little tired, but he still looked great. He’ll be back, and I could see it in his eyes.”
“He’s probably gonna beat Jack Nicklaus’ records and be the greatest of all time.”
While Woods attempted to temper expectations following the second place finish, others saw something from his performance.
“In terms of hitting shots and all that stuff, he’s not that far away,” said Justin Thomas. “But in terms of being able to compete and walk 72 holes multiple weeks in a row, yeah, that’s a different story and he’s the only one who can answer that.”
Joe LaCava — Woods’ caddie for the PNC Championship — said he was “pleasantly surprised” by Woods’ performance.
“I don’t want to say shocked, but I’m a little pleasantly surprised,” LaCava said. “A lot of quality long-iron shots. Short game is midseason form. Good touch. Good distance control on the 60-, 70-, 80-yard shots.”
“Obviously, physically you can see he’s in a lot of pain. He’s not even close to being there yet, to be able to walk a golf course and play at that level. But in terms of the golf, not all bad. He doesn’t have the speed and the strength back yet. JT [Justin Thomas] was hitting it 30, 40 [yards] past him at times [on Saturday]. But I think that’ll come when he gets some of his stamina back.”
TV networks certainly hope he’s on the path to return, with NBC’s telecast of the PNC Championship getting 2.4 million viewers and a 1.3 rating on Sunday, the best ratings in two decades for the tournament.
Joe Morgan is the Sports Reporter for The Daily Wire. Most recently, Morgan covered the Clippers, Lakers, and the NBA for Sporting News. Send your sports questions to [email protected].