SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Four-time major winner Ernie Els believes age is no barrier to success for Tiger Woods as the American great embarks on his latest comeback attempt after crippling injuries have blighted his last three seasons.
Woods experienced mixed results on his return to action after 15 months out in December but the 41-year-old 14-times major winner has committed to a busy schedule, starting at next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, as he targets a return to full-time play.
“I am in my late 40s and he is just getting into them. There have been a few cases where we have won majors in our 40s, it doesn’t happen that often but it does happen,” Els, who was 42 when he won the 2012 British Open, told reporters on Wednesday.
“If players like myself, Darren Clarke and Mark O’Meara won (majors) in our 40s, surely Tiger thinks he can do it to. I am sure its on his agenda,” the South African added as he prepares for this week’s Singapore Open.
“Mentally, he is as strong as anybody but he needs to find some momentum at his favorite events and if he gets that, he can start believing again. I would love to see him play like he did back in the 90s, but I am not sure that is going to happen.”
Els also believes golf has benefited greatly from Woods’ rise to prominence since the American turned professional in 1996 and more regular appearances in a landmark anniversary year would only pique interest among fans and the media further.
“It’s been 20 years since he won his first major at the Masters and it’s quite amazing what he has achieved,” Els added.
“He has won 14 majors in that span and he was injured for at least three or four of those seasons, so it’s really a major for every year he has been healthy as a professional. That’s incredible.
“We would not be playing for the money we play for if it wasn’t for Tiger, so we have to thank him for that, for what he has done for the game and it can only be good if he plays well.”
The South African added that with golf boasting a bumper crop of top players at their peak, such as Jason Day, Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas, an in-form Woods would only add more value to the circuit.
“There’s a lot of excellent players out there, some of them playing great golf, so it will be great to see if Tiger can get back in the mix at some of the big events and create even more of a buzz,” Els said.
Editing by Sudipto Ganguly