It's been a while since we last saw Tiger Woods tee it up in a professional tournament. Following his WD at The Players Championship in May, the golf world has been waiting with bated breath to see if Woods would return to the course this year.
He passed on the U.S. Open and British Open, leaving many to wonder if was preparing to shut things down for the season. And just when you thought he wasn't coming back this year, Woods announced he'd be making his return at the World Golf Championship-Bridgestone Invitational, with plans to play the PGA Championship the following week.
For a guy who hasn't hit a full shot since the surgery, many are already wondering what kind of Tiger Woods will show up on the first tee on Thursday. Will it be the guy that hobbled off at TPC at Sawgrass to a host of questions about his future? Or will it be the old Tiger that used to dominate the game of golf?
Who knows for sure, but plenty are speculating and offering Woods advice as he returns to the game ... including pal Michael Jordan. The basketball great spoke to the Sydney Herald Sun about what he expects Woods to do when he starts playing again.
"I think he's waiting to explode again," said Jordan. [...]
"A wounded dog has a tough time trying to keep winning battles.
"And because the battle was a lot tougher than I thought even Tiger realised a while ago, he needs to heal before he gets back into these battles again."
The biggest roadblock Woods faces upon his return to the game of golf is his overall health. Over the last year-plus, he's played through pain and continually put more stress and pressure on his knee. With it apparently fully healed and ready to go, maybe this time around he can find some level of consistency in his game.
While Woods' life outside the ropes continues to be a story, Jordan also said just getting back inside the ropes will only be a good thing for Woods.
"When I went through those issues, once I got on to the basketball court that became a therapeutic thing for me where I was able to forget all those other things.
"Once I finished playing basketball, I came out with a better understanding of the decisions I had to make.
"He doesn't have that now. Now he's going through something that's totally different, totally new for him and he's now acknowledging that. He needs to get healthy, mentally and physically, before he can really attack that."
What Woods has gone through recently doesn't pale in comparison to some of the issues Jordan dealt with when he stepped away from the game, but it's clear that during tough time, the course (or the court) has been a safe haven for the two superstar athletes.
Aside from getting healthy physically, questions still abound regarding Woods' mental state. The last couple of times we saw him in the heat of the battle, you could see the chinks in his armor -- things we almost never saw when he was at the peak of his career.
As Jordan mentioned, we need to see Tiger come back with not only a clean bill of health, but also with clean mind and a renewed sense of purpose. Questions still abound regarding his game, but with the first round of the Bridgestone only a couple days away, we don't have to wait much longer to hopefully get some answers.
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- Tiger Woods