There may have been a hint of nostalgia when Woods, a longtime Buick endorser, signed on for this weeks event, but the more likely motivation was a desire to save his major championship season ' not a tournament on life support.
I would have played no matter what, Woods said Wednesday when asked if he would have teed it up this week at the Buick had he not been wind-whipped into an early exit two weeks ago at Turnberry.
The sky is not falling at Isleworth and if by some act of nature Glorys Last Shot comes and goes without a Woods photo op with the Wanamaker Trophy, the season, not to mention the financial markets, will somehow shoulder on.
Under the best of circumstances majors are tough to win, just ask Lee Westwood. Major knee surgery and 10 months of near inactivity make the major mountain that much steeper.
Rebuilding year ' like mulligan and lag putting ' is not a term Woods is likely familiar with. But if ever there was a year when he deserves a break from our unrealistic expectations, this is it.
And somewhere deep within that steely psyche Woods understands that, which is probably part and parcel with the master plan that is unfolding this week in Michigan. He rarely, if ever, plays two weeks before a major, but then hes never found himself in catch up mode so late in the year.
If things didnt seem quite right at Augusta National and Bethpage, Turnberry was an out-of-body experience. And the chorus of questions predictably followed.
One bold scribe on Wednesday went so far as to ask Woods if Hank Haney was still his swing coach.
Oh yeah, Woods laughed.
With apologies to the writer, the question was laughable. Among the things Woods simply doesnt do ' mail in tournaments, show up unprepared, give up 54-hole leads ' is panic, and it will take much more than an 0-for-3 major record to change that.
Instead, he took the long view on his major card in 2009.
I just got to put it together at the right time. That's the whole idea. You can't win majors playing poorly. You got to play well, said Woods, who has gone 0-for-4 on the Grand Slam leaderboard just three times in his career and not since 2004.
Woods has never been pegged as one of the most sentimental guys on Tour, and for good reason. You dont set sail for 18 majors being soft in the middle. But, like the rest of his fellow card holders, economic headwinds have made marketing mice out of the circuits meanest men.
As commissioner Tim Finchem has stressed, these guys need to be good schmoozers, and maybe that sentiment helped pry Woods from his mid-summer slumber and onto Warwick Hills rolling fairways.
It would be unfortunate (to lose the Buick). Obviously this area's been struggling a bit, and all the players have really enjoyed playing in front of the fans here, said Woods, whose last five starts at Warwick Hills are a study in simply-perfect math ' 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 2nd, 1st.
Buick's been a huge sponsor of the Tour. Not only the four tournaments they used to be a part of, but just an overall partner of the Tour, I think they've been great. Unfortunately, things have worked out the way they have, and it's unfortunate they've lost a few events.
Woods wants to be a team player, but a safer bet would be that he simply wanted the extra reps heading into the PGA Championship. Or maybe it was that pro-am pairing with rock legend Bob Seger.
As Woods stepped to the 16th tee his group could hear Old Time Rock and Roll wafting from a house adjacent the fairway.
I already had in mind if I would have hit the driver off the fairway, I would have blamed it on him, Woods said. So I hit a good one, so he got the credit.
As Woods rounds into shape for the final leg of his most testing season, another Seger classic comes to mind.
Like wind on the plains, sand through the glass.
Waves rolling in with the tide.
Dreams die hard and we watch them erode.
But we cannot be denied.
The fire inside.'
'The Fire Inside, Bob Seger