Anand Datla

Tiger Woods puts Albany centrestage with his return

Tiger Woods will hope to play some good golf on his return to competitive play for the first time since February

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Tiger Woods in Bahamas

29 November, 2017: Albany is a sleepy resort town in the province of New Providence in the Bahamas. The residents of the luxury resort will have no tranquility this week though, as Tiger Woods makes his return to competitive golf after several months away from the game. The 600 acre estates are buzzing with activity and excitement as fans and media wonder how the great American might play after recovering from a fourth surgery to his back since 2014.

The Hero World Challenge is an elite field event, with only 18 golfers invited to play an exclusive weekend of golf for a million dollar winner’s cheque. With eight of the top ten in the field this week, Tiger indeed has some elite golfers to keep company, in an event hosted by him.

Despite being out of action for a long time, Tiger continues to remain a massive draw. The media tent and the galleries are bursting with people, curious to see how he might play upon his return. Just for context, Woods has a massive edge over the field. He has an impressive 79 career titles; the rest of the field, combined, have collected 81 titles.

But when he tees off on Thursday, in the company of Justin Thomas, Woods will have no advantage from his rich heritage. The cameras will all turn on him – prying on his swing, direction and distance – with every stroke he makes around the sandy golf course.

“This is very different because last year I was still struggling with a little bit of pain and I was able to hit some good shots, able to play, but in looking back on it now, I look on it as playing in slow mo,” Woods told the media.

“I didn’t realize how bad my back had become and how much I was flinching and just how slow I was. I didn’t realize it because it’s been a slow degrading process.

“I thought I had some speed, thought I was playing halfway decent, shot some good scores, but now I’ve looked back on it and man, I didn’t even have much at all.”

It is difficult to guarantee four good scores from the great man, no matter how well he is seen swinging the club, in the several social media shots that have emerged of him. A rousing start is well within his reach, but consistency is another thing. Even for Tiger Woods, it might take a few more rounds of competitive golf before he can rediscover his golden touch.

Motivation might not be an issue, even though Tiger has won everything there is to in golf. Sam, 10 and Charlie, 8 have never seen their dad play the golf he is renowned for and Tiger would love nothing but an opportunity to show them his very best.

“I want them to see what I’ve been able to do my entire career. I’ve been fortunate enough to play tournament golf for 37 years and I want them to experience some of that, have a better understanding of it,” he said.

“I don’t know how long I’m going to be playing but I want them to come to a few events, I want them to feel it, I want them to understand it a little bit more.”

Let us hope to heavens that the daddy in Tiger is able to treat his children to some good golf.

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