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Tiger Woods

Tomorrow, the most recognizable athlete in the world resumes his sport of choice and to say there’s an air of anticipation surrounding Eldrick “Tiger” Woods would be akin to saying the sun is bright — while true, it doesn’t quite capture all that’s going on with our solar system’s power supply. Take, for example, today’s practice round. According to the WWL, there were over 100 credentialed reporters there and by the time Tiger got to the 9th hole, a 500-plus strong gallery had formed behind him. Oh, and the grandstand was full as well. Using my rudimentary math skills, that’s something close to 1000 people who gathered to watch someone practice golf.

We’re talking about practice. Not a game, not a game, but practice.

Speaking of, how did Woods look in his first public golfing appearance since the US Open? According to those who saw him, Tiger is indeed back and he might just be better than when he left — a thought I’m sure the rest of the PGA has heard by now.

And a person who had no clue about Woods’ inactivity would have a hard time recognizing that anything was different about his game.

“Why would it be different?” said Hank Haney, Woods’ swing coach. “That’s what I don’t get. I’m not saying he is going to be better. He won 10 of the last 13 tournaments. I’m just trying to understand the logic of how he could be worse.”

Haney noted, however, that Woods’ swing is different.

“He is swinging with an ACL. The knee was always moving. Now it’s strong.”

Oh, and during what was probably the most-watched and talked about practice round of golf ever, Bob Harig indicated Woods only missed one green in the nine holes, and that was caused by a trigger-happy photographer who snapped a picture during Tiger’s swing. According to Harig, Tiger teed up another ball after the errant swing and split the fairway down the middle.

And the hits don’t end there either.

In an interview following his practice round, Tiger indicated his short game is now better than when he left. He also said his legs were stronger than ever:

News like this only adds to the anticipation of tomorrow’s official return of Tiger Woods to the PGA. If he really is “better than ever,” what does this mean for the rest of the field? Woods was incredibly dominant before his stint on the injury list, winning, like Haney said, 10 of his last 13 tournaments — an unheard of accomplishment in modern golf. How does the news of Tiger looking stronger and better translate to tournaments? If he was winning at such a rate before his surgery, can we somehow expect more? Is something like an official, all-in-one-year Grand Slam out of the question?

For what it’s worth, if I was Brendan Jones (Tiger’s first round opponent), I would play this up as much as I could. It’s not everyday you get to be apart of massive media blitzes, so take advantage of it. Let the world know there’s another part of the twosome Tiger’s playing in, not just some sacrificial lamb. Don’t be satisfied with just being apart of the Tiger Woods spectacle, embrace it.