The PGA Tour has been again for 5 weeks and already has delivered a match scoring report one week, a former No. 1 successful one other week, two sudden-death playoffs and a participant who grew by two shirt sizes to attempt to change the sport. And it nonetheless felt as if one thing was lacking.
Or somebody. That modified a couple of minutes previous 7 a.m. Tuesday when Tiger Woods pulled his courtesy automotive into the car parking zone at Muirfield Village, modified his sneakers and started preparations for his first PGA Tour occasion in 5 months.
He was sporting a masks. The return of Woods isn’t the return to regular, aside from these watching on tv.
Woods had an thought of what to anticipate from seeing empty golf programs at Colonial and Harbour Town and even final week at Muirfield Village. He has heard from mates on tour how eerie it’s with no followers, no cheering. “It’s a really totally different world out right here to not have the distractions, the noise, the joy, the vitality that the followers deliver,” Woods stated. “It’s only a silent and totally different world.”
And it is going to keep that approach. The PGA Tour returned June 11, and the Memorial was purported to be the primary match with followers, at 20 per cent capability, till coronavirus instances started to spike and the prudent motion was to play it protected.
The “Nicklaus Club” hospitality tent continues to be to the best of the 16th tee. A small grandstand overlooks the 18th inexperienced. There wasn’t time to dismantle them. Four extra tournaments introduced Monday they will not have spectators, all over the Tour Championship to finish the FedEx Cup season.
They’re nonetheless enjoying, although. And now, so is Woods. “I feel he was beginning to get a little bit sassy,” Justin Thomas stated over the weekend.
“I used to be telling him he is scared to return out and play towards all of us when he is sitting at house, simply attempting to present him a tough time. But yeah, we’re excited to have him out.” Woods and Thomas performed the again 9 Tuesday morning with simply over a dozen folks watching, primarily media. That’s not totally new for Woods.
The last spherical of his victory in Japan had no spectators due to flooding. The third spherical of the AT&T National in 2012 had no followers due to a freak wind storm that toppled 75-foot bushes at Congressional.
They have been again the subsequent day. They will not be at Muirfield Village all week. They might be lacking as Woods, a five-time winner of the match Jack Nicklaus constructed, goes after his 83rd profession victory to interrupt the PGA Tour report he shares with Sam Snead.
Woods was final seen at a PGA Tour occasion on Feb. 16 at Riviera, the place he shot 77 and completed in final place. His again felt stiff within the chilly climate. He skipped the subsequent 4 weeks to be in form for the Masters, after which the pandemic occurred. Woods has barely been seen in any respect this yr.
That a lot was clear when Woods was requested about his possibilities of successful after a five-month layoff. His intentions are to win, similar to at all times. Can he do it this week? He went simply over two months with out enjoying final fall and received in his first match again on the Zozo Championship.
“Whether that performs out come Sunday, hopefully that would be the case,” he stated. “It was that one specific week nicely, three tournaments in the past at Zozo. There’s no cause I can not do it once more this week.” Three tournaments in the past for Woods was practically 9 months in the past.
Any match would like to have Woods within the subject, however on this setting, does it even matter? It’s not like ticket gross sales would explode as a result of there aren’t any tickets to promote. So it turns into a TV present, and that is not unhealthy, both.
The actual adjustment for Woods is how he handles the silence. He has fed off the gallery longer than he is been a professional. He was requested if he must return to his Stanford days for the final time it was simply him and different gamers on the course. “Well, even in faculty I had a couple of folks following,” he stated with fun.
The chip-in from behind the 16th gap when he received the Memorial in 2012? The chip he made for par off the 14th inexperienced when he received in 1999? Any birdie he is ever made at Muirfield Village? They all have been adopted by the loudest cheers. “For most of my profession, just about nearly each aggressive enjoying spherical that I’ve been concerned in, I’ve had folks round me, spectators yelling, a whole lot of motion contained in the gallery with digicam crews and media,” Woods stated.
That was his world. Not lengthy after Nick Faldo helped Woods into the inexperienced jacket on the 1997 Masters, a part of him puzzled if that was the one main Woods may win.
Faldo’s level was that whereas the course suited him, Augusta National was the one main that stored the horde of media at a distance. As it turned out, Faldo later realized, that grew to become an asset. “Everyone becoming a member of him now on the weekend at a significant goes into his world. That’s Tiger’s area,” Faldo stated in a 2007 interview.
“Other guys will step into that area one week and return out. He’s there on a regular basis. And good luck coming into his world.” It’s a special world now, a phrase Woods used 5 instances Tuesday.
It’s everybody’s world. But simply seeing him at Muirfield Village gave the golf world a slight sense of normalcy.