Among those paying close attention to Tiger Woods’ return this past week at the Hero World Challenge: Woods’ former swing coach, Butch Harmon.
Writing for Sky Sports, Harmon said that he was “pleasantly surprised” with Woods’ T-9 finish in the Bahamas. It was Woods’ first competitive tournament since February and a fourth back surgery – a spinal fusion – in April.
“I’ve got to be honest, I really like the way Tiger is swinging the club,” Harmon wrote. “He played beautifully over the first two days, and although he didn’t have his best day in the third round, the course was playing very difficult.
“Overall I think we should all be very impressed.”
Harmon said he was encouraged by two things:
Woods has his swing speed back and seems to have total freedom in his golf swing – “I don’t see any of the up-and-down movements that he used to put in there,” Harmon wrote. – and Woods is pain-free. (Harmon said Woods’ current instructor Chris Como told him that this is the first time Como has worked with Woods where Woods hasn’t been in pain.)
Harmon did, however, suggest everyone should “temper” expectations when it comes to Woods in 2018.
Harmon wants to see how Woods responds to a full-field event on the PGA Tour, not just an 18-man field at the ultra-relaxed Hero World Challenge.
“Right now it’s easy to think he can be Tiger Woods again and be the best in the world, but that would be a stretch for him,” Harmon wrote. “…
If we keep saying he can come back and win more majors, that’s like putting the cart before the horse. Let’s just see how he progresses.”
Harmon did contest that when it comes to Woods, no one can rule out anything.
“The one thing I learned from my 10 years as Tiger’s coach, and since then, is never say never when it comes to Tiger Woods,” Harmon wrote.
“I’ve said before that I wasn’t sure he’d ever play golf again, and even when he was playing I wasn’t sure he could ever win again. He may now have chances to win on the PGA Tour again, but winning a major is a different animal.”