Tiger's return excites players and fans

Mon Dec 19, 2016 9:02pm EST
 
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By Tony Jimenez

LONDON (Reuters) - Tiger Woods appeared in only one tournament all season but the year ended with the name of the 14-times major champion on the lips of most golf followers around the world.

Back in action after an absence of almost 16 months caused by chronic back problems, the 40-year-old American made everyone sit up and take notice with a roller-coaster display as he finished 15th at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas in December.

Pure box office, as ever, Woods reeled off a tournament-high 24 birdies to offer fans hope that he can rediscover former glories but also looked vulnerable as he made several errors of judgment over the four days.

Compatriot Jordan Spieth expressed the views of many in the elite 17-man field with a positive assessment of the tournament host's return to competition.

"What looks like is happening is he's being patient, he's making a return, he's confident in his game," twice major winner Spieth told reporters. "That's really exciting for us and for golf.

"He's a guy that can continue to have an influence on the golf course for players ... he can truly help get the numbers back up in golf."

Love him, or loathe him for past indiscretions, Woods simply cannot be ignored and there is always a special frisson of anticipation whenever he tees it up.

Rewinding to the opening major championship of the year, it was Spieth's sudden and unexpected late collapse in the U.S. Masters that opened the door for Danny Willett to claim the coveted Green Jacket.   Continued...

 
Tiger Woods watches his shot after teeing off on the 2nd hole in the final round of the Quicken Loans National golf tournament at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in Gainesville, Virginia, in this file photo taken August 2, 2016.  REUTERS/Mandatory Credit: Rafael Suanes-USA TODAY Sports/Files