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Year of the Tiger?

Friday, November 9, 2018
tiger wood

Former Reuters journalist Tony Jimenez spoke to Tony about Tiger’s comeback…

“Now that we are winding down the clock on the 2018 golfing year, one of the issues I find really fascinating looking ahead to next season is wondering how Tiger Woods is going to perform.

I really believe he's got more major victories in him because, historically, there has never been anyone in golf as mentally strong as Tiger.

His successes down the years were all down to his mental fortitude and his ability to separate himself from everyone else. I was talking to the 2005 U.S. Open champion Michael Campbell a few weeks ago. Michael played with Tiger when he was in his pomp and the New Zealander gave me something of an insight into the way Tiger thinks, the way he leaves no stone unturned in his search for perfection.

For instance, Michael said Tiger always knew exactly how many walking steps he would take per minute. That sort of attention to detail intrigues me and I think if he is physically well this coming year, we are going to see some vintage performances from Tiger again because I believe he's capable of putting consistent scores together that will beat the younger players.

He's on 14 majors now and, of course, the initial aim must be to win his 15th because the last one came as long ago as 2008, but it wouldn't surprise me to see him taking that first step towards reaching Jack Nicklaus's all-time record of 18, it really wouldn't.

Tiger's had a terrific year this season. He had seven top-10 finishes in 18 appearances on the PGA Tour and winning the Tour Championship in Atlanta in September was a special achievement, especially as it ended a five-year victory drought during which he was plagued by back problems.

As long as he doesn't hurt himself again, and he realises that he was swinging the club so much better in the last few months, he can be a consistent force again. His golf swing isn't such a savage thing now, it is more of a swing, less of a hit. If he can keep that going and maintain the same approach, I don't think 18 majors is out of the question.

Look at his fellow American Phil Mickelson. He's 48 now, still strong physically, still strong mentally, and he's five years older. Tiger, though, will have to hit the ground running at the start of next season and I would imagine that everything he is doing right now will be about preparing for the golfing challenges that lie ahead in 2019.

I have such a high regard for Tiger. When he was at his best and doing his thing, he was unstoppable. I always wondered where he had to put himself mentally to get the job done as consistently as he did. Where did he go mentally to be that exceptional?

As someone who has been in that pressure-cooker situation at the top of our game, I can assure you it takes a hell of a lot of organising of your world, your time, to get that good. He's done it once before and if he can get in that same place again, and get stable from a physical point of view, I think we are going to see history being made. I really do.”