Tiger Woods & Rory McIlroy – Still bring the Buzz in 2018

by Maura Hutchinson

Golf legends Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy have returned to the professional golf circuit this month after both took time out to recover from injury. Despite the rise of young players dominating the game, like Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Jon Rahm, Woods and McIlroy still pack the wow factor for legions of fans across the globe. So what could this mean for the 2018 season?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock recently, you’ve probably heard about Tiger Woods’ return to the PGA Tour after almost two years out. In his first official PGA tournament since having back surgery last April (his fourth in three years), Woods finished T23 on Sunday at the Farmers Insurance Open in California. Not too shabby for a guy who hadn’t made a cut in over 888 days!

The 14-time major winner carded four rounds of par or better, posting a 72-71-70-72 at Torrey Pines. An end result Woods himself seemed more than happy with.

“Overall, I’m very pleased,” Woods told reporters on Sunday. “After not playing for a couple of years and coming out here on tour, you know, it was a solid four days.” Adding, “I had to fight for every score on every hole, and sometimes those are more pleasing than boring rounds. I can grind it out with the best of them.”

More than two decades after his first Masters win, the last few days proved that Woods can not only “grind it out” with today’s top golfers, but that he can also still bring huge excitement to tournament crowds. Although, it looks like one fan might have gotten a little too excited on Sunday…

Woods is set to appear at his next tournament in a couple weeks time at the Genesis Open where he will be playing alongside Rory McIlroy for the first time since 2015. McIlroy, fresh off a three-month break due to a rib injury, has proved he is ready to take on 2018 after finishing T3 and second at his first two events this month, the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship and the Dubai Desert Classic.

On Sunday the 28-year-old narrowly missed out on his first win since the 2016 Tour Championship. With eight holes left to play on Sunday, McIlroy held a two-stroke lead. But a series of mistakes on the final holes meant the Northern Irishman lost by one-shot to China’s Haotong Li.

“I thought I was obviously in the driver’s seat,” McIlroy told reporters afterwards. “Then just a bogey out of nowhere on 11 – just a bad nine iron there – and the three-putt on 13.”

Adding, “Being in the positions I’ve been in and having two close calls the first couple of weeks of the year, it’s a little difficult. The competitor in me is very disappointed right now. I always want to win, and I just didn’t do enough when I needed to.”

Coming back from injury and experiencing two near-miss wins in a row are proving difficult for McIlroy to swallow but are also good omens for how the golfer’s season might progress.

McIlroy will next play at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro Am but we can’t wait to see when him and Tiger tee off at the Riviera Country Club February 15th!