Will Tiger win a major in 2015?

After finishing tied for last place at his own tournament on Sunday, Tiger Woods is officially back..a new swing, a new physique, but so far a horrific short game.

Wood’s dropped eight shots minimum due to his chipping around the greens last week and admitted himself that he needs to work a lot on his short game. It seems like every time he gets close to a golf course the question is always asked.. Will he beat Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major championships?

the comparison from last year..

the comparison from last year..

Let’s get one thing straight, he’s a long way away from that record at the moment, let’s start small. Can Tiger win a major in 2015? Through all the talk of swing changes, explosive movements and putting, I think it simply comes down to fitness. If he stays fit all season, plays a solid 20-25 tournaments missing minimal cuts, he could certainly win a major in 2015. When watching him this weekend I was massively impressed with his new swing, a lot more room at the takeaway, not as steep at the top of the swing and a lot more rotation in the hips, hence more of the ‘explosive power’ Tiger likes to talk about. He seems to be putting  lot less pressure on his back, at the end of the swing he has a very straight spine, in comparison to his arched back last season at the finish. The new swing is very similar to that of the 1996 U.S amateurs, and we all know what happened the year after that.

Make no mistake about it, the competition is getting progressively better. McIlroy, Spieth and Fowler have come on leeps and bounds over the past couple of years and these three will be big players in the 2015 season. Not only them but with players like Patrick Reed, Billy Horschel and Henrik Stenson about, the competition Tiger faces is getting stronger and stronger. Players don’t seem to be scared by Tiger anymore, which is something he needs to get back into his game if he has any chance of winning a major next year.

Onto his short game, which was quite frankly diabolical last week. Going through a swing change is obviously going to have some effect on other aspects of your game, but Tiger knows he needs to work on his release of the club through impact. Every chip he duffed was because of the impact at the ball. Back in his glory days he was renowned for being the best at getting out of tricky situations in and around the greens. He knows that part of his game has to improve dramatically. I think it will.

So, will Tiger win a major in 2015.. taking everything into account, the new swing, his back problems and short game issues I think this year might be a bit too early for him. I can see him challenging again, which is obviously what the whole golfing world wants too see. The main thing is keeping fit. Everyone wants to see a competitive 2015 from the 14-time major winner, and if that happens, the future will certainly be bright for him.

Woods struggles on return

When Tiger Wood’s hit his first competitive drive in four months out of bounds on the 1st tee yesterday you got the feeling it was going to be a tough day for the world number 24.

After the first 18 holes of the Hero World Challenge at Isleworth Country Club, and 118 days since his last competitive tournament, the former world number 1 and 14-time major winner finds himself 11 shots off the lead after shooting a 5-over-par 77. Wood’s opened with back-to-back bogey’s after driving out of bounds on the 1st and finding the green-side bunker at the par-3 2nd. After another bogey at the 7th, Wood’s duffed a chip form the green-side rough and failed to save bogey. Eight holes into his long awaited return and Wood’s found himself 5-over-par and rock bottom of the leaderboard.

Wood's and Como working on the new swing..

Wood’s and Como working on the new swing..

On the back nine Woods showed glimpses of his old-self, almost holing out for eagle on the 12th hole and managing to make a couple of easy pars. However, his chipping let him down again on the short par-5 13th. After a brilliant drive Wood’s hit a perfect 6-iron to almost leave himself a 5-foot eagle putt, only to see his ball agonisingly drift down the slope and off the green. From there, Woods duffed two chips in a row and what looked like an almost certain eagle, turned into another bogey. Wood’s finished his round with five consecutive pars.

What can we make of his early struggles? After 4 months out of action it’s inevitable that there will be clear signs of rustiness. The technical side that let him down yesterday will obviously have been neglected during his split from Sean Foley and hiring his new coach/consultant Chris Como. Whether it be nerves or indeed rust, he is still Tiger Wood’s and surely his short game can not be any worse than it was yesterday.

The fact that his round was marred by his poor chipping and not a recurrence of his back troubles or analysis of his swing can only mean good things going forward. His new swing looks a lot more assuring and seems to take a lot of pressure off his back, something that Como has been brought into achieve. Wood’s tees off with Patrick Reed at 11:20am (16:20 GMT) for his 2nd round.

Elsewhere on the course, Australian Open winner Jordan Spieth leads by one at 6-under-par after an impressive round of 66. The 21-year-old made 5 consecutive birdies through holes 6-10 and looks in good form early on. Henrik Stenson, Rickie Fowler, Steve Stricker and Zach Johnson are one shot back on 5-under-par and will all be hoping for another under-par round when they tee off later this afternoon.