Here emerges another “Hello World” story for Tiger Woods, as the 15-time major champion starts his latest rebound during this week’s Memorial tournament in Ohio.
According to BBC News – “Despite numerous self-inflicted sabbatical returns and injuries, the 44-year-old hasn’t ever returned to a more changed setting. Woods hasn’t played at Genesis Invitational at Los Angeles since ending 68th in mid-February.”
Ever since, there has been the noticeable and catastrophic impact of coronavirus, and the nine left standing events in the PGA Tour period this season will be played in a bubble without audiences.
And while the world has changed beyond acknowledgment, the golf scenery has also significantly changed.
Woods comes back to a field that involves nine of the top 10 players, and to a sport which really feels younger at the present time. This was characterized by the exciting play-off victory by Collin Morikawa against Justin Thomas at last Sunday’s Workday Charity Open.
Morikawa is only 23, so this was his second victory on the PGA Tour. It happened to come on the very same course in Muirfield Village that will be used this week.
The young Californian really became a professional last year. He has a spectacular long game in his locker, with an immaculate iron play reminiscent of Woods.
Morikawa is part of a rapidly evolving generation like the powerful Matthew Wolff, who was second to Bryson DeChambeau in Detroit a week before, and the always-improving Norwegian Victor Hovland (22).
After finishing third last week, Hovland has also competed throughout all five events played until the PGA Tour came back last month, and for each of them he has been progressively impressive.
The most promising young talent in Europe has led tee to green statistics during the last three competitions and, having won in February in Puerto Rico, a second professional success won’t be far away.
Australia’s Adam Scott seems to be the only top-10 player not playing this week, and just Webb Simpson (34) and Dustin Johnson (36) of the surviving nine seem to be older than Rory McIlroy, the 31-year-old world number one.
Woods, just like the majority of us, will note DeChambeau’s huge shift (26). The number seven in the American nation has added yardage proportional to his muscle weight that he put on throughout lockdown.
He is on target at 323.8 yards to smash the record for the longest overall driving distance in a PGA Tour campaign.
And it does yield results. Before he started winning in Detroit earlier this month, the bulked-up, self-styled ‘golf scientist’ has finished joint third, sixth, and eighth places in recent weeks.
Woods, of course, has also seen many young pretenders come and go through a long, often interspersed but magnificent career.
As he trains for the next step, he will also be conscious that the game he has changed forever keeps changing at an ever-increasing pace.