World waits to hear if tiger's roar is as loud as before

Updated: 2016-10-11 09:07

By Agence France-Presse in Los Angeles(China Daily)

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World waits to hear if tiger's roar is as loud as before

Team USA vice-captain Tiger Woods celebrates winning the Ryder Cup at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minnesota, on Oct 2. Sam Greenwood / Getty Images / AFP

All eyes on Woods as he returns from longest layoff of career

Tiger Woods, 14 months removed from his last competitive outing, nearing his 41st birthday and in recovery from multiple back surgeries, still ignites interest like no other golfer.

The 14-time major champion will tee it up on Thursday at Silverado Resort in Napa, California, in his first competitive start since a 10th-place finish at the Wyndham Championship on Aug 23, 2015.

The normally low-key Safeway Open, start of the PGA Tour's 2016-17 season, is suddenly the center of the golfing universe.

"I'm sort of glad I'm not there that week," Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy said when Woods last month announced the projected timetable for his return. "It's going to be a bit of a circus."

Compared to 45 media outlets credentialed for the tournament last year, 106 are accredited this year, with organizers doubling the size of the media center.

A similar jump in ticket sales was expected, with some reports suggesting fans could be treated to a superstar pairing of Woods and five-time major winner Phil Mickelson in the opening rounds.

Not that Woods needs any help to draw a spotlight, and rampant speculation on just where his game might be after more than a year of painstaking rehabilitation.

"We've played nine holes together. He's pounding it a mile and flushing everything ... his trajectory and ball flight are like the Tiger we knew 15 years ago," Sweden's Jesper Parnevik told Golf Digest last week.

"Comebacks are never a sure thing, but something tells me his might be spectacular."

Woods, who will turn 41 on Dec 30, might settle for steady, with no setbacks.

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