February 21, 2018

Tiger Woods' comeback actually begins now

26 January 2018, 05:13 | Randolph Howard

Tiger's Top 10 Torrey Pines moments

Hot reads: Oddsmakers doubtful Woods will make weekend at Torrey

Only then will today's stars get an idea of how they could fare.

Jon Rahm must be feeling pretty good this week.

But after a 10-month injury hiatus from competitive golf in 2017 while he recovered from spinal fusion surgery, the 42-year-old says he's not setting the bar high this week at the Farmers Insurance Open near San Diego. Rahm set the pace on Thursday shooting a bogey-free 62.

Asked how important he thought it was for golf to have Woods back playing for a prolonged period, the Masters champion added: "Of course we need him".

"To be honest, I think a lot of us dreamt about having the opportunity to maybe walk the back nine with Tiger in contention and have a battle hand in hand", Rahm said. That week saw Woods achieve a record score of 22-under-par, but it would be several years before he triumphed again.

Stat wizard Justin Ray, a must-follow on Twitter for golf fans, went through Woods' career victories to see how his totals stack up against the best active players under the age of 45.

Yet even here in the Farmers Insurance Open, a tournament he's won seven times on a course he's won on nine times, Woods has lowered the bar on expectations to a height that even one with a history of back and knee maladies could gingerly hurdle it.

Niall Horan (R) the music artist with Rory McIlroy (L) of Northern Ireland and golfer Paige Spiranac of the United States on the eighth tee during the pro-am as a preview for the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.

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Rahm, now ranked second in the world behind only Dustin Johnson, looks poised to contend in majors this year.

Other major contenders in the market include Rickie Fowler, Justin Rise (4th last year), Hideki Matsuyama and 2015 victor Jason Day, while three-time victor Phil Mickelson is out at 55/1.

Woods enjoyed a memorable moment at Torrey Pines in 2008 when he defeated Rocco Mediate in an 18-hole playoff at the U.S. Open.

This tournament is contested over the two courses at Torrey Pines - North and South. As exciting as it is to see one of the greatest players of all time teeing it up again in competition, how much does he really have left? For a top-5 finish at Torrey Pines, "Yes" is rated at +750 and "No" is favored at -1000. It's 1-7 that he completes play. This isn't Erin Hills though, the course may be long, but the fairways aren't giant runways to land on.

Lahiri has already played most of the golf courses on the PGA TOUR.

"This week will be a true test, because you've got some thick rough, a long golf course and some cold weather, " Reed said.

He said he has been playing six days a week at home since the start of the year. It is the first time he has played a proper tournament for 12 months; the exhibition in the Bahamas last month where he surprised most observers was encouraging, but this is a step up. No surprise there as you look back at the past winners, it was always someone who had a great year that year. "That's something I've been looking forward to". Jon Rahm once again is the highest priced player this week, and it's not a hard decision. The odds are against him ever winning another one. This kid is special.

From what I witnessed firsthand at the Hero, there's a different feel to this comeback, because it appears Woods is physically and mentally healthier than he's been in years.

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