I'll be the first to admit that months ago I thought Tiger Woods would never compete in another major again.
Don't get me wrong, it was fantastic to see him out playing again, but it never really felt like he was in contention to win. I hardly saw any media coverage surrounding Tiger either, aside from the occasional highlight or scorecard recap simply because he's such a notable name. I really didn't think anything of his appearance at the PGA Championship. I especially didn't expect him to make a run to win.
Tiger should get some credit where it's due.
He recovered from a devastating back injury and he's back to playing some really good golf. He told reporters at ESPN that at one point he could barely remain upright and now he's out competing for the PGA Championship. Lots of people want to say that Tiger's back but I hesitate to say that until he wins another major. To me, Tiger set the bar so high at his peak that to simply compete isn't necessarily a return to form.
Granted, I don't think he'll ever dominate as much as he did in the early 2000's (his career best for major wins in a year was 9 in 2000) but if he continues to perform at the levels that he has in 2018, I'd be wiling to change my mind. For context, Woods' best finishes for this year were 2nd in the PGA Championship, tied for second in the Valspar Championship and tied for fourth in the Quicken Loans Championship. In addition, he's finished in the top 10 five times this year and ranks 20th in the FedEx Cup ahead of players like Rory McIllroy and Tommy Fleetwood.
Not to take away from Tiger's fantastic run in the PGA Championship, but the entire weekend felt like the culmination of something much greater. Tiger's comeback became a rallying point and it felt like every single person in the world aside from Brooks Koepka wanted Tiger to win.
Social media was buzzing with Tiger Woods clips, takes and reactions which was very cool so see considering golf typically doesn't get much mainstream coverage. That's one of my many gripes with the PGA, they're incredibly bad at marketing their players and getting their sport out of the niche market and into the mainstream.
Tiger Woods' affect on golf is very tangible. According to the Nielsen company, the Sunday Championship round for the PGA Championship had a 73 percent increase in viewership. In the last half-hour alone, where it seemed like Woods was within reach of his 15th major, viewership reached over 12 million.
Will Tiger win another major? The bookies in Vegas remain skeptical despite a new wave of hype behind his performance. Woods has the fifth-best odds to win the 2019 Masters which is definitely an improvement considering he tied for 32nd at the 2018 Masters.
Regardless, it's exciting to see him out on the course competing and being within arms reach of victory. If he manages to win another major before he retires, I won't hesitate to call his return to glory one of the greatest comeback stories in sports history. Until then, we'll just have to wait and see.