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All eyes will be on Tiger Woods this week at the Genesis Invitational, and rightfully so. Woods has not played a competitive round of golf since The Open in July 2022, plus, this will be his first non-major championship start since October 2020.
His lack of appearances certainly adds to the excitement of him teeing it up this week, but it also puts things into a reality that the entire golf world is trying to adjust to.
Tiger Woods is 47 years old and is just two years removed from nearly losing his leg in a car wreck. In December he admitted that he can’t walk and had recently developed plantar fasciitis in the foot attached to his surgically repaired leg.
His inability to comfortably walk is just the latest addition to a laundry list of countless other injuries and surgeries he’s undergone over the years.
While Woods’ body is losing its battle against the undefeated Father Time, his mindset is the same as it was 25+ years ago, he legitimately believes that he can win this week at Riviera.
“I play to win,” Woods said Tuesday. “I know that players have played and they are ambassadors of the game and try to grow the game. I can’t have my mind, I can’t wrap my mind around that as a competitor.
“If I’m playing in the event I’m going to try and beat you. I’m there to get a W, OK? So I don’t understand that making the cut’s a great thing. If I entered the event, it’s always to get a W.”
Woods could be the most mentally strong athlete we’ve ever seen, and doubting him is never a wise decision, but realistic expectations don’t involve him being in the mix over the weekend.
Realistic Expectations For Tiger Woods At The Genesis
There shouldn’t be a single expectation for Woods this week, and that’s completely fine.
His not-so-stellar track record at Riviera aside, Woods hasn’t shown real competitive life since the 2020 PGA Championship where he finished T-37. In his three starts last year, he finished 37th at The Masters, withdrew from the PGA Championship, and missed the cut at The Open at St. Andrews.
The only real expectation for Woods is for him to put a tee in the ground and play at least 36 holes. The expectation of the golf world looking in should be to enjoy every shot Woods hits because the sport is lucky to have him still swinging a golf club.
It’s impossible not to romanticize the occasion of Woods playing golf these days, and that’s more than okay.
Most Likely Outcome For Tiger Woods At Riviera
Woods making the cut and playing the weekend would be a gift from the golf gods, but it’s incredibly unlikely.
Despite writing just six paragraphs above that doubting Woods is never a smart decision, everything surrounding this week points to him missing the cut.
That is not a detriment to Woods, that is simply living in reality.
Woods will undoubtedly hit some stellar shots, he’ll show flashes that will make sports bettors place future bets on him to win a green jacket in April, but when it’s all said and done, the big cat likely won’t be playing the weekend.
Follow Mark Harris on Twitter @ItIsMarkHarris