All the big Tiger questions, from expectations to win totals to Presidents Cup

Tiger Woods posted a seemingly out-of-nowhere win at the Zozo Championship after a knee procedure and a nine-week layoff. So, of course, that leads to the most important question of all: Now what? We go through a little of everything, from next year to career totals to the conversation about being player and captain at the Presidents Cup in December.

1. Given what Tiger just did at the Zozo Championship, does it change your expectations for him in 2020? What do you expect from him?

Bob Harig: Absolutely. He already has 500 FedEx Cup points! Given the way the 2019 season ended at the BMW Championship, there was every reason to believe that Woods had exacted every bit of his energy to win the Masters and the rest was never going to be the same. His back was acting up, his game suffered, and he seemed OK with it. It turns out that knee problem we didn’t know about was a big deal. He’s a different player.

Michael Collins: For sure it changes my expectations because he is feeling healthier than he has in a while. Expect Tiger to make the 2020 Tour Championship. Although a major might not be in the cards, I do expect at least two more wins — with the caveat as always being his staying as healthy as he is now.

Ian O’Connor: Not really. Before the Zozo, I thought he would have a great chance to win the Masters again in 2020. After the Zozo, I feel the same way. His body isn’t beaten up yet in April. Tiger’s problems start with the tour’s decision to move the PGA Championship to May. That condensed majors schedule puts tremendous stress on him. I wouldn’t be shocked if next year is a repeat of this year: another green jacket at Augusta and not much of anything after that.

Mark Schlabach: Of course. I’ll be honest: With the way the 2018-19 season ended, I wondered if Tiger was finished. His game was a mess, and I didn’t think he’d be able to recover from the physical ailments that plagued him after his Masters victory. He’s 43 years old. It’s not as easy to rebound. Once again, Tiger proved us wrong.

Nick Pietruszkiewicz: Just when I was ready to be cautious, to say maybe he sneaks in a win here or there next year, he goes and looks comfortable and dominant and healthy in Japan for win No. 82. Now a three-win season (four if we count Zozo toward “next” season) and a major are back on the table for me. With one caveat: He does not play in the Presidents Cup. But we’ll get to that later. For now, yes, it’s not out of the question to think that, if he picks his spots right, he can win a few times and strike fear in the other pros when his name pops up on a leaderboard.

2. Which of the 82 wins stands out the most?

Harig: For me, it remains the 2000 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. That was such a dominant week by Tiger, and players who witnessed it came away feeling inferior. Woods shot 12 under par, and that was the only score in red numbers. He won by 15.

Collins: There’s only one time in the history of golf that I say someone actually beat the game, and that’s what Tiger did at Pebble Beach in 2000.

O’Connor: I know a lot of people default to Pebble in 2000, the most dominant majors performance in golf history. But in the end, Tiger will be defined by what he did at the Masters, the game’s most meaningful event by a country mile. It comes down to the 1997 Masters vs. the 2019 Masters. As a nod to recency bias, I’ll declare 2019 the winner by split decision.

Schlabach: There were so many dominant victories in his career, but I think his 2019 Masters victory was the most unexpected and surprising. For the first time in his career, Woods came from behind to win a major. He was 3 shots down with 11 holes to play. He hadn’t won a green jacket in 14 years. Before that victory, even Woods wondered if he was finished winning golf tournaments.

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