Henrik Stenson, last year’s Open champion, and new world No 6 Justin Rose have both told Tiger Woods that he can only compete with golf’s new wave of exciting young players if he is back to full health.
Speaking at a press conference ahead of the Turkish Airlines Open at the Regnum Carya resort on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast, the Ryder Cup pair delivered their responses to Woods having announced his first appearance since February will be in the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas this month.
“It will be good fun to see him back out competing again as he’s been the top player to play our game and what he’s done for the game has been amazing,” said Stenson. “The No 1 thing is to be healthy. You can’t compete with the best players in the world if you’re not healthy, so that’s the first step.
“He obviously feels like he’s there and ready to start competing again, so we welcome him back. It’s going to be a bit of a journey to be back in good form. He’s been away from the game for quite some time and it’s hard to go from just practising to being competitive at the highest level. But he’s someone that you can never count out.”
Rose, who shares the same manager, Mark Steinberg, as Woods, is equally excited about the prospect of seeing the 14-time major winner playing again. “You can tell he’s beginning to get some confidence back in his body. And obviously with that, confidence will come back in his golf game,” said Rose.
“To expect him to come out and win and compete immediately, is maybe unrealistic. But I think that is just fantastic for the golf world to see him back healthy and out of pain. For me, that’s the biggest thing for him and he can build on that.
“Knowing Tiger, it will take him a week or two or three of feeling good for him to start thinking that he can achieve some fantastic things again. But step one for him is being out of pain and enjoying the game of golf and he can definitely build on that.”