We're still one week away from Tiger Woods' 2017 debut, but the standard questions are the same as they ever were: can he win again, and can he someday add to his career haul of 14 majors?
Woods turned 41 last month, and his last PGA Tour win remains the 2013 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. Despite missing more than a year because of a back injury, he has the support of one former adversary in Ernie Els.
Els was 42 when he won the 2012 Open Championship, the second in a run of three straight years where the claret jug went to a player over 40. Speaking to Reuters in advance of the Singapore Open, the South African shared his belief that Woods may someday join the short list of players to win a major after turning 40.
"There have been a few cases where we have won majors in our 40s. It doesn't happen that often, but it does happen," Els said. "If players like myself, Darren Clarke and Mark O'Meara won in our 40s, surely Tiger thinks he can do it. I am sure it's on his agenda."
Woods finished 15th out of 17 players at last month's Hero World Challenge in his first competitive start in 15 months. He's scheduled to play next week at the Farmers Insurance Open, which will start a run of four worldwide starts over a five-week span.
Els had several close calls with Woods in majors, notably finishing runner-up to Woods at both the U.S. Open and Open Championship in 2000. His win five years ago at Royal Lytham defied the odds, and he believes that Woods could still someday pull off a similar feat.
"Mentally, he is as strong as anybody, but he needs to find some momentum at his favorite events," Els said. "If he gets that, he can start believing again. I would love to see him play like he did back in the '90s, but I am not sure that is going to happen."