After watching Tiger Woods and his son Charlie finish runner-up to John Daly and his son, John Daly II, at December’s PNC Championship, speculation was rampant about Tiger’s plans to return to competition during the regular PGA Tour season.
While some say Woods’ appearance — and subsequent impressive performance — at the PNC is evidence that he’ll be ready to tee it up on the PGA Tour soon — maybe even at the Masters in April, Tiger himself has downplayed his future competitive schedule.
“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,” Woods told Golf Digest in November. “Pick and choose a few events a year and you play around that. 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. I just hope I can have it time up at the right tournament.”
Woods tends to keep his life’s details close to the vest, so it’s hard to anticipate his next move. But Golf Channel analyst and 11-time Tour winner John Cook is one of the select few in Woods’ orbit, and he thinks we’ll have to wait a long time to see Woods play on Tour again.
“I don’t see it in the next 12 months,” Cook told Golf Channel. “I think next time we see him will be [at the PNC Championship] next year [in 2022]. I don’t think his body will be physically ready. He can’t train the way he’s going to want to train.”
Despite the seeming negativity, Cook does think Tiger has his sights set on a return — just not anytime soon.
“He’s never been a ‘show up’ guy if his game isn’t ready for prime time,” Cook continued. “[But] I see it happening at some point otherwise he wouldn’t be testing a ball, shaping shots on the practice tee, working on a new driver that he likes. I think there’s a motive to that.”
Perhaps adding weight to Cook’s take is a little nugget he shared about a conversation he had with Woods following the PNC.
“Talking to him, he was pretty open and honest,” Cook said. “He said he was exhausted. He saw enough good stuff with his short clubs and his feel, but the long irons were falling out of the sky, but that was just from some mishits. But he said, ‘I’ll get that.’”
Here’s hoping that when Woods does return, he’ll be firing on all cylinders.