- Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
- Tiger Woods is set to play in his first tournament in 300 days at the Hero World Challenge.
- Michael Collins is “extremely excited” because Woods looks healthy during this comeback, unlike his previous attempts.
- Collins does say Woods’ game needs work, but there is hope.
The latest Tiger Woods comeback attempt hasn’t even officially started, but more and more reports are making it sound like Tiger really is back this time.
Woods is set to play in the PGA Tour’s Hero World Challenge on Thursday, a tournament he hosts in the Bahamas, and his first tournament since his latest back surgery.
While there is plenty of skepticism over how healthy Woods is and how well he can play, one person who knows Woods well says this comeback looks and feels different.
Michael Collins, who served as a caddie on the PGA Tour and who is now an ESPN analyst, has hung out with Woods in the Bahamas and explained on ESPN Radio’s “Golic & Wingo” why this comeback is different.
“Tiger has been not necessarily truthful with us and has admitted so in his other comebacks,” Collins said. “This comeback literally looks and feels different than the other ones, because, as Tiger admitted, even though he told us at the other comebacks that he was good and felt great, he didn’t look good and he didn’t look like he felt great. He looked, as he was walking the course, stiff.”
Collins went on to explain that he is not worried about Woods’ swing or his score. The more important issue is how Woods looks, especially after playing a round.
“I don’t necessarily worry about a golf swing, because I know he is going to power through a golf swing. What I thought about with Tiger Woods was, after he was done playing golf, after his round. How did he look then? When he got up on the podium to speak. When he stepped off the podium or when he got in the car? Before, he looked like he was struggling to do that. And I would even say, ‘Hey man, you alright?’ [And he would say,] ‘Oh, yeah, yeah, I’m good.’ I’m like, ‘No you’re not. You’re not good. Like, do you think you’re fooling anybody with the way you are?’ Well, now, Tiger, he looks and acts like the Tiger I knew from back in the day. The guy I used to follow and cover, even before I was here with ESPN.”
What Collins has seen this week has him excited.
“We used to joke around and have a good time and have fun on the golf course, but that’s when he was healthy and he was playing some pretty good golf,” Collins said. “That’s the Tiger I’ve been hanging out with the last five days. And watching him play golf makes me very cautiously optimistic and extremely excited because the guy I’m watching walk around, before his round, during his round, and especially after his round, is the Tiger I haven’t seen in a long time.”
- Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
This is not the first glowing report about Woods. He recently played a round with President Donald Trump and Dustin Johnson. According to Brad Faxon, Woods was pain-free and even out-drove Johnson about half the time.
Collins did go on to explain that this doesn’t mean fans should start expecting Woods to dominate majors again. The former caddie noted that the current generation of golfers are not intimidated by Woods, the way players were back when he was winning 14 majors.
As for Woods’ game, Collins says the driver “was fantastic,” but the irons “weren’t great,” and his short game was not even close to “top-tier, Tiger back in the day.”
So there is work to do, but if Woods is really healthy this time, he’ll actually have a chance to work out the kinks and maybe, just maybe, Tiger really is back this time.