Tiger Woods is said to have been ‘pain-free’ and often outdriving world No. 1 Dustin Johnson during a recent round that also included Trump

  • Tiger Woods recently played a casual match with three big names: President Donald Trump, Dustin Johnson, and Brad Faxon.
  • Faxon gave a glowing report of Woods’ game, saying he looked “at ease” and was even outdriving Johnson on some holes.
  • Faxon was just the latest golfer to praise Woods’ revamped swing, joining Rickie Fowler and Jason Day.

Tiger Woods is making his return to competitive golf this week at the Hero World Challenge, and if the rumours are to be believed, he could have a legitimate shot at the trophy.

Last week, Woods played a casual four-ball match at Trump National Golf Club with three of the biggest names in golf: President Donald Trump, the world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, and the eight-time PGA Tour winner and current Fox Sports analyst Brad Faxon. Shortly thereafter, Faxon, the smallest name in that group, gave a glowing report on the state of Woods’ game in an article for Golfweek.

“He looked great,” Faxon said. “I think more than anything, he looked at ease. He was not concerned about swinging hard and going at it with driver. The ball flight, the sound off the club, all of it was right there.”

Woods’ most recent official event was the Dubai Desert Classic in February, where he shot an opening round of 77 before withdrawing because of lower-back spasms. He had back surgery in April, his fourth such procedure in just over three years.

Woods has previously struggled upon returning from his back surgeries – he’s survived to the weekend in just 12 official events since the start of 2014, slipping all the way to 1,199th in the world rankings. But according to Faxon, the 14-time major champion was comfortable on the course this time around.

“He was happy and, more than anything, he’s finally pain-free,” he said. “The issues he had with the back the last couple of comebacks seem to be gone. He looked effortless, he looked free, he had some power.”

In perhaps the most revealing tidbit from his account, Faxon said Woods was able to rival Johnson’s length off the tee. Johnson, known as one of the most powerful players in the history of golf, ranked second on the PGA Tour in driving distance last season, averaging 315 yards.

“I was impressed with how far he hit the ball,” Faxon said. “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.”

The match ended all square after Faxon missed a birdie putt on the 18th hole. In addition to observing Woods and Johnson, the Rhode Island native also bantered with Trump, whom he called “a fun guy to joke around with.”

“That morning, Trump tweeted that he was going to be playing with Johnson and Woods,” Faxon wrote. “I kind of busted his chops and said, ‘Hey, where’s the love? I thought you were going to tweet my name too!’ He laughed, and I told him I was trying to get up to 70,000 followers on Twitter. Trump immediately replied, ‘I have 158 million.'”

Faxon wasn’t the first golfer to deliver a rave review of Woods’ game in the past few weeks. Rickie Fowler said the 79-time PGA Tour winner has been hitting it “way by” him at Medalist Golf Club, where they are both members, while the former world No. 1 Jason Day said Woods was “the best he’s ever felt in three years.”

Golf fans will get a chance to see for themselves this week. The Hero World Challenge is set to get underway on Thursday.