UPDATE: Tiger Woods gave fans an early holiday present by posting a video [below] of him hitting a golf shot on Monday morning. It is the clearest sign yet that Woods, 45, is planning to at least attempt a return to golf after his traumatic single-car accident on February 23. Here’s our editor’s take on Woods’ recovery, written just a few weeks ago for our November issue.

“I smile at obstacles,” a self-assured Tiger Woods once declared.

Indeed the 15-time Major champion has overcome many a hurdle during his storied career – some of his own doing – but none have asked him to delve as deep into his bag of magic tricks than his current predicament. 

A huge wave of optimism swept across the golf world last month when images of a healthy-looking Woods, standing freely on two legs while watching son Charlie play in a junior event, flooded social media [right]. Aside from an outpouring of best wishes, it posed many questions.

Was the 45-year-old’s rehabilitation from the badly broken leg he sustained in that February car crash going better than expected? Perhaps… 

Has he been secretly working on a return to the tour, maybe as early as next year? Highly unlikely but certainly not impossible by looking at him.

Of course, standing upright and walking are poles apart from swinging a golf club with full weight, rotation and purpose. That, without question, remains the ultimate obstacle he must overcome. But this is Tiger Woods, a guy who won a US Open on one leg and is fuelled by competition like no other athlete of his generation. 

If nothing else, this rare public showing provided a timely moment for pause as we use this November issue to look back at one of the greatest sporting careers of all time in its 25th year.

It’s hard to believe it’s been a quarter of a century since a baby-faced Woods introduced himself with “Hello, world” upon his professional debut. The Golf Digest family started covering Tiger in 1981, when he was 5 years old and weighed the equivalent of a tour golf bag. Our next encounter was when he entered US Golf Digest’s Armchair Architect Contest at age 11. In 1990, our long-time American scribe Jaime Diaz profiled him at age 14. It was then we got to know his father, Earl, as a delegate to the National Minority Golf Symposium, sponsored by US Golf Digest and the USGA, and on the basis of that friendship we built an alliance that has now lasted three decades. 

Over the journey, Australian Golf Digest’s editors have all had a ‘Tiger moment’ they cherish. For associate editor Steve Keipert (editor-in-chief from 2004-2012), it was one of the more unique experiences anyone could possibly have. “My favourite has to be the nine holes I followed Tiger at Augusta National on the Sunday before the 2007 Masters began,” Keipert recalls. “With badge-holders not allowed in until the next day, the gallery following him that afternoon was just one person… me.”

A decade earlier, at the same location, Michael Court (editor from 1996-2000) had his Tiger moment: “I can still recall sitting beside Tiger’s dad, Earl Woods, at the press conference after Tiger won his first Major championship. Legendary Sports Illustrated writer Rick Reilly whispered to Earl as his superstar son answered questions on the podium. It was magic.”

They say timing is everything. For senior writer Rohan Clarke, that proved to be the case during his tenure in the top chair from 2000-2004, when Tiger’s nearest rival on world leaderboards was, seemingly, daylight.

“The realisation sank in that Australian golf could no longer rely on Greg Norman to be our torchbearer,” Clarke says. “The era of Tiger Woods had begun, and it wasn’t unusual for him to feature as a cover subject on this magazine four times a year.”

It was an editorial trend that continued. Tiger has featured on countless covers of Australian Golf Digest after US Golf Digest’s masterstroke of signing him to a long-term agreement as Playing Editor in 1997, where he remains today.

And while we all wait for Tiger’s next move, inside this issue you’ll find the cream of his work up until now, from his best instruction tips to the greatest hits and misses of his remarkable career – including his eight trips Down Under [page 100]. It all forms Part I of our exclusive Tiger Anniversary Special. Yep, we have a few more surprises for you next month!

Excepting only his first Masters, all of Tiger’s Major victories were won from the masthead of Golf Digest, and we took you along for every shot here in Australia. Which leads me to finish with one of my Tiger moments. In the lead-up to the 2019 Presidents Cup I got the opportunity to pose a question to Tiger that every Aussie golf fan wanted to know: “Tiger, will this be the last time we see you in Australia?”

“Well, I don’t know if this is the last time,” he said. “I can still play the Australian Open or some other event that’s down there… there’s always that chance.”

The odds of ‘Tigermania’ once again hitting our shores may have ballooned since then but while both his legs can still touch the ground – and he’s still smiling – that chance is still very much alive in my books. Enjoy the read!