Golf fans, casual and hard core, around the world seem to be sharing the same sentiment: they’re happy to see Tiger Woods’ return.
Many of Woods’ colleagues on the PGA Tour have also shared their enthusiasm that the 14-time major winner is making another comeback. That includes two pros from the Midlands, who happen to be among the top players in the world.
Irmo’s Dustin Johnson and Chapin’s Wesley Bryan are among the many who have welcomed back Woods, who is making yet another return to competition this week at the Hero World Challenge. It’s his first tournament in 10 months and his first time competing since fusion surgery in April, the fourth operation on his back.
“The comeback begins today!” Bryan, a Dutch Fork and South Carolina alum, posted on Twitter. “Pumped to see @TigerWoods back in action!”
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Johnson didn’t get to watch Woods’ round Thursday, because the Coastal Carolina alum was also competing in the 18-player event in the Bahamas.
That didn’t stop Johnson from cheering Woods’ return.
“Good to see Tiger healthy and competing again. Should be a good week,” Johnson tweeted.
Johnson is tied for fourth place after the first round. He shot a bogey-free, 4-under 68.
To illustrate how much Woods’ game has improved since his repeated back injuries, he was only another stroke behind Johnson, shooting 3-under 69.
Kevin Kisner, an Aiken native, was also in the field of elite players. Kisner was a shot behind Woods, carding a 2-under.
Johnson is currently the No. 1 ranked player in the world, significantly ahead of Woods who fell to No. 1199 during his absence. Woods knows a thing or two about being the top-ranked player on Earth, he holds records for the most consecutive weeks (281) and most total weeks (683) in that position.
Johnson and Woods are friendly rivals, who have spent a lot of time playing and practicing together. Because of their familiarity, and competitiveness, Johnson threw a little shade at Woods as he welcomed him back to competitive play.
“I still outdrive him,” tweeted Johnson, who is considered by many to be one of the longest hitters and elite power players in golf, a designation Woods held during his most dominant years.
Johnson should know who hits it the farthest, he and Woods have played together a lot recently. That includes a round last week with President Donald Trump, on the day after Thanksgiving.
Fellow pro Brad Faxon also participated in that round and wrote about it in a story for Golfweek.
“Probably on the 10 holes that they were both hitting driver, Tiger hit it past Dustin half the time and Dustin hit it past Tiger half the time,” Faxon wrote.
When asked to verify Faxon’s claim, Johnson smiled.
“He hit it by me a couple of times,” Johnson said. “Did I bomb one and he hit it past me? No. But he did it past me a few times. He was moving it, though.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.