01/25/2015

Tiger Woods will be on the prowl again, as he makes his debut of 2015 at the Waste Management Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale.

Questions are still in the minds of many as he begins a year that follows the worst of his professional career, with back problems being the leading cause.

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However, if just nine holes during practice are any indication, Woods is happy about where is heading into the tournament that starts on Thursday.

In December, Woods suffered the flu, which set him back for a least a few weeks following the Hero World Challenge, which was his only competitive tournament since August.

He was quickly back at it, with Chris Como his new swing “consultant.”

Woods, who will be playing the Phoenix Open for just the first time on the past 14 years, said his driving has come around much faster than he anticipated.

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He is longer off the tee than he thought he could ever be again and his speed is back up, which makes it fun, he added. Woods said during a press conference on Tuesday that his numbers are where they were 15 years ago.

In eight tournaments that Woods played around the globe last year, he struggled to hit fairways off the tee. Much of that was attributed to his back problems that eventually required surgery on March 31. He had his comeback derailed by a separate back issue that he says is fine now.

In Orlando last month upon his return to competitive golf, his driving and his long game looked to be considerably better. However, he struggled close to the greens, which is rare when it comes to Tiger’s game. His play around the greens was poor, as he chunked nine chips shots during the tournament.

He explained his poor play by saying he was between techniques; between the release pattern he used before and the body movement he used with Sean Foley and his new release he now uses.

He explained that he just had to hit thousands of chips to get the feel of the new release and now it has finally come around.

This week’s tournament for Tiger is the first of two straight for him. He will play next week as well at Torrey Pines at the Farmers Insurance Open. The course is likely one of his favorites, as he has won eight times during his pro career including a U.S. Open title in 2008.

Since 2001, Woods has skipped the Phoenix Open so for many it was a surprise when he decided to play. His last time at the tournament, a spectator was detained for having a loaded gun while another threw an orange at Tiger.

He said those were reasons he had not played for a while at the tournament, but he said the tournament organizers have done a terrific job to make things much safer.

On Wednesday, the Tiger Woods debut will begin in the pro-am, and he will tee off Thursday to start the four-day tournament.

Remember, it’s all during Super Bowl week as well, which is also played in the Phoenix area. It will be a chaotic week, as all lights will be shining down on Arizona.