The prediction was made by Tommy Fleetwood, the 2017 European No 1, as Woods prepared to make his first outing this year in this week’s Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines in San Diego.
“Yeah, definitely,” replied the Englishman to being asked in Dubai if he felt Woods, who returned to winning ways with a spectacular victory in the Tour Championship in Atlanta in September, could take up where he left off last season and contend again this year.
“I was lucky enough to play with him a few times last year and, if you didn’t know he was Tiger Woods and he was just a random player that you see out on Tour every week, you’d have just watched him and say: ‘This guy is due a win’.
“He’s trending in the right direction for sure. I’m pretty sure he’ll be up there. If I were a betting man, I would have a little flutter on him winning a major this year.”
Two months after his early exit from the Desert Classic in 2017, Woods underwent spinal fusion surgery. He’d slipped to 1,199th in the world rankings when he made a comeback later that year but is now up to No 13. “I was never one to say that he couldn’t make a good comeback,” said Henrik Stenson as the 2016 Open champion also offered an opinion on what Woods can achieve this year, having been in the mix in both The Open and the USPGA Championship in 2018.
“I think what he’s done over the years and the career that he’s had, it would be a little bit foolish to say that you don’t see him winning golf tournaments and having a good comeback when and if he got healthy, and he did. Going forward, if he can stay healthy and if his body is going to hold up for the stress that the golf swing putts on it, I can see him winning more tournaments for sure.”
Stenson himself is hoping to get in the major mix again this year, adding: “I’d love to give the Claret Jug some company on the shelf. My focus this year is to put myself in contention at major championships to try to give myself a chance to win a second one, and I did a half-decent job last year.”