World No. 1 Jason Day says Tiger Woods won’t find winning easy after the former long-time best announced he would return to competition in October.
Woods has been sidelined by back injuries since sharing the Wyndham Championship in August 2015. He had a second microdisectomy performed in September 2015 with a follow-up procedure six weeks later, forcing him out of competitive golf.
In his time away, Woods has nose-dived to be ranked 711th in the world after last topping the charts in March 2014.
And while his good mate Day welcomed the news on the eve of this week’s BMW Championship, the Australian gave a word of warning to those thinking Woods would simply pocket a 102nd worldwide win in his career.
“The game has got so tight with how competitive it is and how hard it is to win,” Day said.
“I don’t think winning is going to come as easily as it was (to Tiger) in the past. But if he’s willing to do the work and willing to climb that mountain again and get back to where he was … I mean he’s done it two or three times before, so the possibility is endless for him.
“But he’s in his 40s. I don’t know what the stats are with players how well they play in their 40s, but it’s more so mentally when he’s got to choose when he’s going to be down `upstairs’ more so than body and stuff, because everyone knows that he can play through pain.”
And it's a view shared by another former World No.1 Rory McIlroy, who also is thrilled the buzz and the aura that surrounds Woods is returning to golf.
“I’ve sort of known for a while he was trying to start back at Napa (Safeway Championship in mid-October) as I had a long chat with Mark Steinberg (Woods manager) at The Open, so I’m not that surprised," McIlroy said.
“So it’s good he will be back as you miss that buzz Tiger creates at tournaments.
“I’m just glad I won’t be playing the Safeway as it will be a circus over there.
“But then Tiger just brings an aura and an atmosphere that no one else in golf can bring, so I have missed that part of it for sure.
“Though given the time he has been out and his rehab after the injury he’s been through, it could be difficult for him at 40 years old rather than if you were in your 20s or early 30s.
“That’s why it has been over a year since we have seen him on the golf course and he’s clearly taken the conservative approach … it will be great to see him give it one last shot for the next half a decade or whatever it is going to be and go from there.
“Everyone is excited to have him back and hopefully he can stay healthy and be out here for a long time.”