Golf: Scott sees long road back for Woods

Tiger Woods at last year's British Open, where he missed the cut. He aborted a planned comeback at last month's Safeway Open and is targeting next month's Hero World Challenge, which he hosts.
Tiger Woods at last year's British Open, where he missed the cut. He aborted a planned comeback at last month's Safeway Open and is targeting next month's Hero World Challenge, which he hosts.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Tough to compete at top level, says Aussie of former No. 1 , who may play again next month

Tiger Woods is expected to make his long-awaited comeback at next month's Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas.

However, former world No. 1 Adam Scott is doubtful whether the American golf star will ever be fully healthy and compete at the highest levels once again.

Woods has not played a competitive round since undergoing back surgery in September 2015. He aborted a planned comeback at last month's Safeway Open in California, sparking fresh uncertainty about his career after a 16-month layoff.

Scott, who had replaced Woods as the top-ranked golfer for 11 weeks in 2014, told The Straits Times yesterday: "I think he can probably get back to a 100 per cent of health, but perhaps a 100 per cent now may not be the same as it was 10, 12 or 15 years ago.

"Unfortunately we are all getting older and after surgeries and all that you are just not quite the same. I don't know where his 100 per cent puts him."

Woods turns 41 on Dec 30, and has had multiple surgeries to his knee and back. While he has won 79 PGA Tour titles and 14 Majors, the last of those triumphs came at the 2013 WGC Bridgestone Invitational and 2008 US Open respectively. He is now ranked 861st in the world.

NOT EASY BUT HE CAN DO IT

There is still time if he can get himself to where he is playing competitively. With the experience he has, it just takes one week for it all to click, a few putts to drop, you can never count a guy like Tiger out.

ADAM SCOTT, the world No. 7 and three-time Singapore Open champion, who does not discount 14-time Major winner Tiger Woods clinching another one.

World No. 7 Scott, who won the 2013 Masters, added: "After such a long layoff he definitely has quite a challenge ahead of him to compete at the highest level again, even though he is Tiger.

"I'm saying that with the utmost respect, given what he has achieved in the game and been able to do. But the standard is very high at the top and he has quite a road to travel to get back up there."

Golf is dominated by a new generation of players in their 20s, led by Scott's compatriot and world No. 1 Jason Day. Half of the top 10 are below 30 years old.

The 36-year-old Scott did cite the examples of Ernie Els and Phil Mickelson, both of whom were 43 when they won the British Open in 2012 and 2013 respectively, as cause for cautious optimism for Woods.

"There is still time if he can get himself to where he is playing competitively. With the experience he has, it just takes one week for it all to click, a few putts to drop, you can never count a guy like Tiger out."

Neither should anyone rule out Scott from winning his fourth Singapore Open title when he competes at the US$1 million (S$1.42 million) tournament next January.

His familiarity with the Serapong course will be an advantage, noted Scott, whose only victories in Asia have come at the Sentosa Golf Club (2005, 2006, 2010).

He said: "It has been an incredible run for me at that tournament and I am really looking forward to coming there and playing after not being there for a few years."

Defending champion Song Young Han of South Korea yesterday confirmed his participation for the Jan 19-22 tournament. Spaniard Sergio Garcia will also play at the Asian Tour and Japan Golf Tour Organisation co-sanctioned event.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 23, 2016, with the headline 'Scott sees long road back for Woods'. Print Edition | Subscribe