This will be the first tournament in golf history in which a players walk gets more analysis than his swing.
I thought I was going to a U.S. Open. I landed at a medical convention of knee experts. Everyones speculating.
There seem to be two schools of thought. The first says that no one, not even Tiger, can return after a two month absence and contend at a U.S. Open with its difficult set up. More troubling, he hasnt walked a full 18 since the Masters. And after a third operation, the knees degenerating under the force of 125 mile per hour swings, and 18 majors is no longer a lock.
Others argue that its not as if a 210 pound D-back blew up Tigers ACL as he tried to turn up field on a toss sweep right. Hed been playing the best golf of his life pre-surgery when he presumably was not 100 percent. The surgery was routine, not major. And theres no better comeback course for Tiger than Torrey, where hes dominated.
Practice ranges are filled with pure strikers on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Since Tigers knee and not his Sunday chops are in question, the following conclusions could be drawn from watching his 30 minute session the day before round one.
If you didnt know better, you could have been looking at a guy whod come in having won three straight. Or five straight. Or whatever ridiculous numbers hes been able post with the repertoire of ball control and power hed put on display for a jammed pack grandstand and about 50 photographers.
Tiger striped it, from the soft arm wedges with which he opened to the last bullet driver that he capped with his signature club twirl and leg kick. Certain a ball could never be hit any better and thered by no need for further work, he handed the club to Stevie without looking. It was Tigers I-just-wanted-to-let-you-know-Im ready to roll moment. He was done, never once reaching to rub the knee, though the biceps he clearly didnt neglect while on the shelf looked as though they might burst at any moment.
Hank Haney said, How can you do any better than that?
The preparations gone extremely well. True, competitions another animal.
But until these eyes see evidence to the contrary, the benefit of the doubt goes to the man with 13 majors.
Email your thoughts to Rich Lerner