Sporting comebacks are one of the great joys of following sport. This January, Roger Federer won his first grand slam in five years at the Australian Open. Like Tiger Woods, Federer is considered the best to have ever played his sport while also not winning a major tournament after his period of dominance ended. Tiger Woods has started 2017 competing in the Dubai Desert Classic ranked at number 666th in the world. This year he is hoping to reassert his dominance in the sport.
Speaking to PGA of America about Roger Federer’s achievement this year Woods said, “for him to come back, after having to take that much time off, and for him to get the timing, that’s the hardest part. As you get older, you change your game and you do things slightly differently.” Woods has also struggled with injury in recent years and has required multiple surgeries on his back. He also took leave from the sport in December 2009 to deal with the fallout of his divorce. Since he dropped out of the world top 500 in 2016 Woods has taken time to revaluate his career and is looking to kick off 2017 with a return to winning form.
It is not going to be an easy road. Woods told The Guardian that “if I can’t prepare to win a tournament, I feel ill-prepared to hit the shots and handle the shots down the stretch and I’m not able to pull them off at home, there’s no reason why I should expect to be able to pull them off out here.” Yet no matter how far the 14-times major champion has fallen down the rankings or how he performs in the tournament his presence is still big news. He is one of sport’s most recognizable names and the excitement that he generates was perfectly demonstrated in an article listing the best reactions to Tiger Woods’ return by golf site Play Your Course. Many golf fans still fondly remember the world-beating champion who dominated the sport for so long and continue to hold him in high esteem.
His effect on fellow golfers is also hugely inspirational. The Telegraph spoke to 29-year-old British golfer Marcus Armitage from Yorkshire who is also competing at the Dubai Desert Classic. The young golfer couldn’t hide his excitement, “I cannot believe I am playing in the same tournament as Tiger, the greatest of all time. I was not going to miss the chance.” It is telling that Woods still carries the same aura that followed him in his earlier days. Like Roger Federer he is still considered a champion and the man to beat. Similar to Federer, Woods will also be hoping that he can recapture the form that sent him to the top of the sporting world.