The question Tiger Woods has (and all of us have) been asked so many times over the past five years might finally get a definitive answer on Sunday afternoon at East Lake Golf Club. Will Tiger ever win another golf tournament? I’ve answered it a thousand times. Woods probably 10 times that.
We’re now 18 holes from it happening. Woods leads the 2018 Tour Championship by three over Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose, and he’s poised for his fist victory since taking the 2013 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. Tiger put himself in position at East Lake (and into the final pairing with McIlroy) with a smoking 65-68-65 start in which he leads the field in putting and nearly leads it from tee to green, too.
Tiger’s statistical profile in 2018 says he actually should have won already — everyone in the top seven in strokes gained on the PGA Tour has at least one win — so it would be fitting that Woods would close the circle at the very last event on the PGA Tour calendar.
It would also be an appropriate close to what has been a pretty incredible year, both for golf and for Tiger. Let’s walk back through the timeline.
April 20, 2017: Woods has spinal fusion on back, his fourth back surgery.
Aug. 31, 2017: Woods gets the OK to start chipping again.
Oct. 7, 2017: Woods tweets a video of himself hitting irons.
Oct. 15, 2017: Woods tweets a video of himself hitting drivers.
December 2017: Woods plays in the Hero World Challenge.
January 2018: Woods plays in the Farmers Insurance Open and shoots 72 in Round 1.
March 2018: Woods posts first top 10 of the year at Valspar Championship.
July 2018: Woods posts first top 10 at a major at The Open.
It’s been a quick run at the end of what has felt like a lengthy comeback full of a myriad stops and starts. On Saturday at East Lake after his 65 in Round 3, Woods noted that he didn’t even really feel like he had his swing at the Valspar in the same way he does now.
” … in March, I didn’t really have a golf swing yet,” Woods said. “I was still trying to figure out how to play.”
I think he’s got that part down, and now he’ll go for PGA Tour win No. 80 on Sunday against the golfer some presumed would take Woods’ throne in his absence (as much as such a throne can be taken).
“Yeah, it’s going to be fun,” Woodssaid. “We haven’t done that that much of late because I’ve not been there. He has been there, and he’s won a bunch of tournaments. So it’s nice for us to go back out and play against one another, be in the mix.”
Woods is 42-of-44 overall when leading after 54 holes, but undefeated when leading by three or more strokes as he will be on Sunday. He really only has two competitors between McIlroy and Rose, too. Everyone else is at least six strokes back of Woods’ 12 under number.