Commentary: On Tiger’s Return at Firestone

The names are all on the entry list at Firestone for the WGC Bridgestone Invitational: McIlroy, Mickelson, Donald, Westwood, Open champion Darren Clarke.  The best players in the world, according to both the eyes of intelligent golf fans and the world golf rankings, will tee it up Thursday morning in beautiful Akron, Ohio.  But for the first time since the first round of The Players, they’ll be joined by a man those rankings tell us is no longer in the top twenty.  They’ll be joined by Tiger Woods.

Tiger will be the story this weekend even though this weekend won’t be the story for Tiger.  The story for Tiger is next weekend, Atlanta Athletic Club, the PGA Championship.  No one knows why Tiger does what he does but everyone knows how Tiger measures success: major championships.  Disappointment at Augusta followed by no-shows at both Opens have left Woods with yet another empty year in his ballyhooed chase of Jack Nicklaus.  He has one chance to save 2011.

And it’s not at Firestone.  Firestone will be about his knee holding up.  It will be about his ball striking.  It will be about his short game and putting not showing the inconsistency normal of a long layoff.  It will be about the beginning of life without Steve Williams.

But most of all Firestone will be about next week, about Atlanta, about the quest for the 15th major title.  Don’t believe me?  Just ask Tiger.

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