Why the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship?
As confounding as Woods decision may be to pundits, as perfect as Doral seemed for a comeback ' warm temperatures, flat course, no cut and deep water to hold Privacy ' when Eldrick T. makes a decision, Charles Schwab sits up for a listen.
There will be more speculation than spectators at Dove Mountain next week. Was it his relationship with title sponsor Accenture that wooed Woods from behind the Isleworth ivy? Was it a capricious format that favors the lucky more so than the on-form that ripped the happy father of two away from the play room?
Best guess ' he was ready. Thats it. No grand plan, no ulterior motives, just competitive simplicity.
Im now ready to play again, Woods said simply late Thursday on his Web site.
Its the only option that squares with the logic. From outside the circle, the Match Play is a square peg in a golf hole. The WGC is cold ' morning lows will be in the 40s next week ' and hilly and, well . . . in Tucson. As bulletproof as the man may seem, and last we saw he was whipping the golf world and Torrey Pines on one leg, he has lost in the first round before ' in 2002 to Aussie Peter OMalley, and in the second round, in 2005 to Aussie Nick OHern. If the bracket holds, hell peg it up against Aussie Brendan OJones . . . er, make that just Jones next Wednesday for the most anticipated two-ball since Rocco Mediate crashed the Monday party last June.
But then the tough-as-nails son of Earl Woods doesnt have that gear. You dont grimace your way to a U.S. Open title on a bad wheel with a, whatever happens, happens frame of mind. And you dont end an eight-month injury-induced hiatus based on a business relationship or flawed logic.
Caddie Stevie Williams hit it pure last year just moments after his man rolled in a 25-foot walk off to win at Bay Hill, He doesnt tee it up unless hes ready to win. I dont know why other players dont think the same way.
Point is Woods has 236 PGA Tour starts as a professional and he didnt tee off at a single one thinking, Just dont break any china. Its well-traveled territory, but Woods laid the ground work years ago, second sucks.
If the Match Play fits only in Woods mind, thats all the bases that need be covered. For Woods, match play is a competitive B-12 shot. The best Wednesday on Tour is just the tonic to feed Woods competitive jones. Eighteen mini-Sundays one player called it last year, and nobody pines for the adrenaline rush of Sunday more than Woods.
No, the question is not why the Match Play, but what can the world expect from a dusted off and dialed in Tiger Woods? Swing coach Hank Haney said in December that Woods was rusty, but that the knee was stronger than ever. History suggests absence makes Woods game that much better. In 13 starts after extended layoffs, including his three-month break between last years Masters and the U.S. Open, he has won seven times which could make him the best lead-off hitter in the history of sports.
For the rest of the PGA Tour, the fun and games are over. Woods gave the other half eight months to make hay. Some did (Padraig Harrington and the U.S. Ryder Cup team), some didnt (Phil Mickelson). Either way, the sport needs a healthy Woods.
Wed like a little more time without him, but it will be fun to see him play, Brandt Snedeker said. Golf needs him back right now.
Why the Match Play?
Why not? The only thing that matters is hes back.
Note: Tiger Woods' return can be seen live on Golf Channel Wednesday at 1 p.m. ET.
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