Provisional leader Bryson DeChambeau and Collin Morikawa just finished the first hole of the pride of the Albany Golf Club in the Bahamas. They had 17 more holes to play in the third round of the Hero World Challenge, and their sterling resumes seemed to indicate their final pairing to be must-see golf. As things turned out, not even their star power angling for a fitting cap to the season could entice a fair number of spectators to leave them for a glimpse of the tournament host taking nonchalant swings on the practice range.
Indeed, DeChambeau, driver par excellence, and Morikawa, newly crowned king of the European Tour, found themselves orphaned by a dozen or so fans who figured seeing Tiger Woods hit drives in a controlled environment made for much better entertainment. Not that the latter still had the chops to shape shots the way he did in his prime; as he himself candidly admitted in interviews prior to the start of his event, and in a short visit to the broadcast booth shortly after his visit to the range, “I can hit it; it just doesn’t go very far.”
In any case, all and sundry clearly cannot wait to see Woods compete anew. Considering that it hasn’t been a year since he suffered from fractures to his right tibia and fibula in a car crash, the fact that he’s able to wield clubs is nothing short of remarkable. But while even he figures on taking to the course anew, when and how remain big question marks. There has been speculation that he may want to try teeing off with his son Charlie at the PNC Championship in one and a half weeks. Tournament organizers are hopeful that they do, choosing to hold for them the spots vacated by the pullout of Retief and Leo Goosen. And as good friend Norah Begay III noted, he could be spared of walking by rules allowing the use of a golf cart on the fairways.
Woods isn’t rushing, though. Judging from his most recent statements, he has neither the inclination nor the desire to push himself for a faster return to competitive play. And because he has no intention of making a fool of himself in public, either, the time will come when it will come, and not a moment sooner. Forget all the hype and the promise of yet another comeback. Never mind that oddsmakers have seen fit to put up odds on his capacity to win the Masters. As he argued, “I can still participate in the game of golf. I can still, if my leg gets okay, click off a tournament here or there. But as far as climbing the mountain again and getting all the way to the top, I don’t think that’s a realistic expectation of me.” Enough said.
Anthony L. Cuaycong has been writing Courtside since BusinessWorld introduced a Sports section in 1994. He is a consultant on strategic planning, operations and Human Resources management, corporate communications, and business development.