Woods still 'the man', his fellow professionals say

Mon Oct 10, 2016 12:11pm EDT
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By Andrew Both

(Reuters) - As Tiger Woods prepares for his PGA Tour return at this week's Safeway Open, the big question is whether he will be able to recapture his previous greatness.

One thing is certain: Even if Woods is only a pale shadow of his former self after two major back surgeries, the 40-year-old is certain to be the center of attention wherever he tees it up.

For all the hype about the current batch of top players such as Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth, Woods has won nearly double that group's combined haul of eight major championships, with his career total of 14.

"He's the man, until he says he's not (competing any more)," Australia's former world number one Adam Scott told Reuters.

South African Ernie Els, who was in the peak of his career at the same time as Woods, got tired of being beaten by the American but realized he was playing in a special era.

Els said he would love to see Woods competing regularly, though he was wary of expecting too much.

"Let's be realistic," the four-times major winner told Reuters. "His winning percentage out here was (close to) 30 percent. That's just phenomenal.

Englishman Paul Casey felt it would be foolish to discount Woods' chances of being a dominant force once again.   Continued...

Sep 28, 2016; Chaska, MN, USA; Team USA vice-captain Tiger Woods walks the 10th green during the practice round for the Ryder Cup at Hazeltine National Golf Club. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports