Tiger Woods has not played since his stunning comeback victory at the Masters two months ago, which has only fuelled feverish excitement ahead of the relocated second major of the year, the PGA Championship, which tees off on Thursday over in New York at Long Island’s Bethpage Black.
The revitalised Woods, to the surprise of no one, has been placed in the early cluster of favourites this week alongside defending champion Brooks Koepka - who pipped him to glory last year - Dustin Johnson, and Rory McIlroy. Between them this quadrant have seven PGA Championships, four of which are nestled in Woods’ overcrowded trophy cabinet, although his last success dates back to 2007.
Woods, now on major number 15, has fond memories of this year’s venue, Bethpage Black, where he won the 2002 US Open - he was the only player to break par (-3). The American also finished T6 in the 2009 edition of the major which was held at the course.
But, for all the furore surrounding Woods at the moment, it’s worth noting that on only three occasions in the last 50 years has a player enjoyed success in both of the opening majors of the year. But yep, you’ve guessed it, Woods was one of those players 17 years ago when he finished at the summit in both the Masters and US Open, the latter of which was held at Bethpage Black (@PGATOURSMartin).
If Woods does win this weekend then there’s a chance he can reclaim the World No.1 spot for the first time since he vacated the prized position five years ago - he held it between 25 March 2013 and 17 May 2014.
Since then top spot has been traded 25 times between eight players, with Dustin Johnson currently the player located at the summit.
Golf Channel reports that the duo of Woods and Johnson are part of a five player group that can leave the PGA Championship as the No.1 player on the planet - Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka, and Rory McIlroy. The publication states that Woods, currently ranked 6th in the standings, can bag top spot if he wins the tournament, current World No.1 Johnson fails to claim a top-10 spot, and then Rose and Koepka have to finish outside of the top-two.
If everything falls into place then the 43-year-old Woods, ranked out at 1,199th in December 2017, would become the oldest ever world No.1, jumping above Greg Norman who was 42 when he went top back in 1998.
Tiger did it in 2002. Augusta National and Bethpage Black were the venues for the first two majors that year.