This is probably 1 billion dollar question in Golf: is Tiger Woods back?
Well, that depends on your criteria of “back”.
If what you meant: he is “back” playing golf at high level; then yes, you can say so. He is now leading the PGA Tour Scoring Average rank, with the average score of 68.334. He is also back as phenomenal putter, leading Stroke Gained – Putting with 1.476 strokes per round. His total driving stats also always ended up there in every tournament he entered.
If what you meant: he is “back” to winning circle, then he definitely is back. He has back since winning the Chevron World Challenge in 2011, actually. And he started off this year very well, winning 3 out of 5 tournaments he participated this year, with the latest came from Bay Hill (Arnold Palmer Invitational)
If what you meant: he is “back” to become the best player in the world; there’s also stats to back it up. He is now ranked first in Official World Golf Ranking, eclipsing Rory McIlroy after his win in Bay Hill. He is also leading Fedex Cup ranking, and also in PGA Tour money leaders table, thanks to the impressive run of form in 2013.
But then, there’s only one criteria where Tiger is not yet back: Major Win.
Unfortunately, that how we judge his performance throughout his career. And to be honest, that’s how he judge his success as well, admittedly or not.
Since he was a kid, Tiger has posted Jack Nicklaus poster at the wall of his room. His dream is not only become like him. He dreamt to be even better than Jack. Surpassing the 18 major titles the Great Bear had collected in his career.
Now, Tiger has 14, 4 major wins short of Nicklaus. At age of 37, TIger’s age right now, Jack also won 14 major titles. So people can say, Tiger is in remarkable similar trajectory as Nicklaus. But Tiger’s last win in major golf tournament was in US Open 2008. That was a long 5 years ago, a period where we see the fall and rise of Tiger Woods during his post marital affair crumble.
So back to the question: is he back? Judging from his own ridiculously high standard, we can all agree he is not yet back. But he is close. And this week’s Masters Tournament, may be the time when he announce to the world: “I’m back”.
Stay tuned. I’ll write more if Tiger is charging on the lush green of Augusta.