ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP returns to Japan without Tiger Woods


And There you go. The elephant in the room. The tiger in the bedroom. The question.

We come to the end of a calendar year in which Woods was for the most part out of sight, doing the hard work of rehab in private after a single car crash in Los Angeles in February. Her legs took the brunt, with surgeons inserting a rod into her right shin, which had multiple fractures, and screws and pins into her right foot and ankle. He wore a cast, then a boot, then a sleeve.

In the beginning, all that mattered was that he survived.

“Well, I think the only thing that really matters now is his well-being,” PGA TOUR commissioner Jay Monahan said in the sleepless hours immediately following the crash. “Her recovery, her family, the level of support we’re giving her.

“Listen, when Tiger wants to talk about golf, we’ll talk about golf,” he added.

Indeed, the big takeaway at the time was simply that Woods’ children, his daughter Sam, his son Charlie, still had a father. A shaken Rory McIlroy said, “Golf isn’t even on the map at this point.”

Now, however, he’s on the map, albeit a distant point on the horizon. From his vocal support for the U.S. Ryder Cup team to his upcoming Hero World Challenge to his recent sighting at a junior tournament played by his son, Charlie, Woods begins to talk about golf in his low-key, fair way. a little. And because it’s Woods, a little means a lot.

So here we are. Let’s talk.

The first thing to know about Woods now is that he has already won again, albeit unofficially, recovering his health enough to attend sporting events and his children’s graduation ceremonies. That he’s still in this game is a victory in itself, considering how fragile it all was in February.

Then you have to understand that it is still early, relatively speaking, in his rehab. It is not yet known how well he was able to steal and putt in his backyard. Plus, he apparently defied all predictions for himself as he won three decades and four US presidents.

“If we’ve learned anything over the years,” tweeted one of them, Barack Obama, after the crash as thoughts and prayers poured in, “it’s never to count Tiger.

True. Just look at the 80’s, 81’s, and 82’s wins. When Woods won the 2018 TOUR Championship, he broke a five-year winning drought. When he won the 2019 Masters Tournament, after four back surgeries, including career-threatening fusion surgery, it was his first major tournament since the US Open 2008. ZOZO was his first start after a another knee operation, and he won despite a bogey on his first three holes.

Then he went 3-0-0 as captain of the winning US Presidents Cup team.

“Great champions do things you think impossible,” said Tom Lehman at the PNC father-son championship in Orlando last December, when asked to plan the next five years for Tiger on the dawn of his life. 45th anniversary. How many more wins, if any? How many additional majors?

Even then, we wondered. It had been an atypical 2020, Woods looked tired after scoring three big wins and leading the charge at the Presidents Cup in Australia in just over a year. His mysterious boredom became utterly bizarre as he hit three balls in the water and scored a 10, the highest score of his career, on the 12th par 3 hole at the Masters (November) 2020.

We had no idea his back was aching again, requiring a fifth surgery, a microdiscectomy to remove a fragment of disc that was causing him nerve pain as Charlie stole the show from last year’s Cabin Crew Member.

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