Tiger’s Comeback: What’s At Stake?

There is a great deal riding on Tiger Woods’ return to competitive golf this week. Although Tiger most certainly feels this way, the stakes are actually much higher for a number of other parties: the TV networks, advertisers and the PGA tour.

When Tiger retreated from competitive golf, the Tour went into a tailspin. It wasn’t well publicized but you could feel it. Sure, Phil and a few stars were still playing, but the landscape had changed dramatically: the main attraction was AWOL.

In fairly short order, a number of big names emerged to fill the void: most notably, Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and Jason Day. Professional golf managed to get its mojo back despite Tiger’s absence — which was quite a feat.

But, what if Tiger stages a comeback in a big way? Let’s say that he becomes part of the mix on Sundays and regularly challenges the young guns. The networks, the advertisers and the tour itself must surely be salivating in anticipation of this.

If Tiger were a mere mortal, I’d have my doubts about it happening, and I’ll explain why in a moment. But I’m not sure that he is a mere mortal. I actually like Tiger’s chances. Why? Because there is so much riding on it.

Not that the PGA tour would be hurting if Tiger were to stumble — it’s already cleared that hurdle. If he returns with both guns blazing, however, the amount of money set to change hands will boggle the mind.

Is it possible that golf’s “powers that be” have failed to consider this? I doubt it.

I like his chances because there is a remarkable amount of money to be made from a comeback. And not just for Tiger.

So, what were the doubts I was referring to?

A few years back, I developed a case of the yips with my chipping. It came from out of nowhere and — let me tell you — it was not fun.

I have suspicions that this issue was related to back problems I was experiencing at the time. When you bend over in a chipping stance, it affects your spinal column and tweaks your lower back. There are nerves involved. And, under intense pressure situations, it affects you. What did Tiger say about nerves recently?

“When I had my knee redone and it was completely blown, I knew it was nine months, but I knew I could come back from it. It’s not nerve damage. When you’re dealing with a spine, when you’re dealing with nerves, it’s a totally different deal.”

I believe that this had a great deal to do with his struggles a few years ago. But, it was shocking to see Tiger flub chips. Unfortunately, those memories tend to linger for a player…especially as they age.

I still like Tiger’s chances, though. Winning this week might be a stretch. But I won’t be surprised if he mounts a challenge.

After all, he is Tiger.

— Billy