Long before we all became self-appointed experts in epidemiology, with our own quack remedies and hocus pocus about containing the coronavirus, we used to be self-appointed experts in osteopathy, with our own quack remedies and hocus pocus about soothing sair backs.

Such knowledge, of course, stemmed from the fact that there had been so much coverage of Tiger Woods’ dodgy dorsal down the years, you could walk into a clubhouse bar after the Saturday medal and listen to Norrie casually talking with great authority about the ins and outs of “microdiscectomy surgery” and “anterior lumbar interbody fusion” before he seamlessly moved into a cursing lament about “that bloody shank on the 16th which nearly clattered auld Archie.”

Woods’ back would go out so often, there is no way it would have managed to comply with the current lockdown restrictions. So, let’s start our weekly rummage through the world of golf with the latest twist in the Tiger tale.


There’s still no getting away from the fact that everything goes up when Woods is around. Attendances would be up, television ratings would be up, sales of this, that and other would be up. Even Ron at the allotment used to reckon the Tiger effect would lead to his tomato plants shooting up. But Tiger ain’t gonna be around forever. 

Last week’s announcement that Woods had emerged from a fifth surgery on his bothersome back led to the kind of muttering concern you’d get when your boiler makes a startling clank but keeps working. You just know, you’ve not heard the last of it. By all accounts, Woods is in decent fettle again but, at 45, and with a back supported by a variety of bolts, rivets and creaking joists, you always wonder what golf will do when he is finally done.

A few years ago, when Woods was sidelined, Rory McIlroy suggested that “a few guys need to put their hands up and try to be the dominant player in the game because that’s what people like to see.” The Northern Irishman was well aware that there was a gaping void to fill in terms of wider, public engagement.

McIlroy is one of those  players who has that genuine star attraction but it’s not in the same, frenzied league as Woods. The current golfing landscape, full of wonderful talent and a variety of appealing, colourful characters, can see any number of players win on any given week but widespread parity doesn’t cut it, particularly with those casual observers for whom Tiger is golf.

Even when he’s just releasing a statement on the latest prods and pokes in his back, golf continues to savour the Woods ride. When the trip is finally over, though, where does it turn next?


Francesco Molinari. Remember him? That brilliant, unwavering Open champion in 2018 and a history- making Ryder Cup talisman with his five-out-of-five haul in the transatlantic tussle that same year? From No 5 in the world, Molinari has plunged the kind of depths that has just about led to deep sea coral forming on his clubs as he dropped to 130th on the global rankings. 

An encouraging eighth place finish on the PGA Tour on Sunday, however, showed some welcome shoots of recovery. It was his first top-10 since that agonising Masters calamity of 2019. The coronavirus shutdown, and the general upheaval of relocating himself and his family from London to California, led to a largely forgettable 2020 in which he played just seven times and missed five cuts. 

Seeing his name on a leaderboard again was a very welcome sight indeed. Padraig Harrington, Europe’s Ryder Cup skipper, probably enjoyed seeing it too.


Tyrrell Hatton, who is now up to fifth in the world, may have earned more prizes and plaudits for his terrific win in Abu Dhabi at the weekend but wasn’t it nice to see Marc Warren in the thick of it in a field packed with star quality.

After a truly awful 2019, in which the Scot made just five cuts in 19 events, a win in Austria last year sparked a welcome resurgence and his share of fifth on Sunday continued his rise back to prominence. The Glasgow man, with four tour titles to his name, claimed a whopping cheque for over £222,000 that was five times what he earned in the entire 2019 campaign. The junior programme Warren is helping to fund at his home club of East Kilbride may get a few extra quid now.

Such acts of philanthropy tend to be good for the soul. Just look at the sense of fulfilment the likes of Paul Lawrie and Stephen Gallacher get from putting back into a game that has served them well.

Financial assistance will always be important to such worthy initiatives but you can’t put a price on inspiration. Seeing Warren mixing it in the upper echelons with the Hattons, McIlroys and Fleetwoods of this world may just give those youngsters he is helping that extra enthusiasm and motivation. Golf can be a rewarding game for all manner of reasons. It's not just Warren who is reaping the rewards of his renaissance.