Teeing Off: Tiger Woods is back, and … ?

Jay Busbee
Devil Ball Golf

Welcome to Teeing Off, where Devil Ball editor Jay Busbee and head writer Shane Bacon take a day's topic and smack it all over the course. Suggest a future topic by writing jay.busbee@yahoo.com, or hit us on Twitter at @jaybusbee and @shanebacon. Today, we talk about You Know Who.

Busbee: You knew we were going to do this, didn't you? The return of Tiger Woods. This is like the Rolling Stones playing at your local sports bar, LeBron James stopping by to get some run in your local pickup game. This is big, and not just because of the boost it'll bring to the Fall Series. Sure, ticket prices are up threefold, and sure, Woods is already installed as a 7-to-1 favorite (next closest are at 25-to-1). And of course, there's that convenient, "Hey, he shot a 62!" story that surfaced last week. So, whatcha think? Is he going to have a solid week or will this be another ugly chapter? Your thoughts, sir.

Bacon: Can we really speculate on this guy anymore? Seriously? His golf game in 2011 makes David Duval look like Matt Kuchar (just with about 100 more pounds of that Perky Jerky).

Do I think he'll play well this week at the Frys.com Open? Yes, I actually do. For the first time this season (or maybe in his career), there are not a ton of expectations. Sure, he's the odds-on favorite to win, but that's just because he's Tiger and gamblers for the most part are suckers. He's going into a Fall Series event basically like an injured baseball player comes back to a minor league team for a few games, and while I don't think he could actually win this week, I definitely think he will compete. I'm calling this a Tiger Week, which means he'll have three good rounds and one bad one.

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Busbee: Great comparison on the minor-league rehab assignment. Though I'm sure the rest of the field won't appreciate the comparison, it certainly fits. If nothing else, Woods drives interest in the game. The people who scream that golf shouldn't be all about Woods have had their chance to see what a Tiger-free golf world is like, and the results have been, well ... not dismal, but certainly not as electric as when Woods is in the mix. Me, I'm thinking Woods will do what he's done so often of late: stay close enough to keep everyone interested, but not so close that he can hammer down the deal.

So, larger question: Does this do a disservice to the poor bastards trying to grind out a living on the PGA Tour ("grind out a living" being a relative term, of course) as Woods swoops in and grabs all the publicity?

Bacon: I don't think it does. If Tiger was doing what he used to do? Absolutely. If he came in with nine wins but wanted some sort of a warm-up to the Presidents Cup? I'm sure they'd be a little perturbed. But we must remember, Tiger has as many wins at Carl Paulson, ranked 242nd on the money list this year. He hasn't played great golf by any means this year, and he's still trying to come back from injury.

While he isn't totally searching for a tour card for 2012, he is searching for something, and I think golfers can all relate to that. We've heard from many big-name golfers over the last 15 years that they have Tiger to thank for their multiple mansions and private jets, and I think these lesser-named players at the Frys.com will be equally appreciative because it'll bring some focus to a golf tournament that wouldn't have even made SportsCenter come Sunday night.

Busbee: Carl Paulson thanks you for that shout-out. Last question: You buy that 62? Obviously he shot it, no way he'd be allowed to lie about that, but you believe it means anything?

Bacon: A wise man once said golf and tournament golf are about as similar as tennis and rollerskating, and take it from someone that has performed great at one and not so great at the other, it's very true. Does a 62 mean something? Sure, it means Tiger had a good day during a pressure-free round of golf. Does it mean he's back? Not at all. If Tiger plays bad, do we roast him this week, or just check it off as much-needed experience before Australia?

Busbee: As long as the guy's swinging a golf club, I don't much care how he does. The sport's more interesting with him in it ... note that I didn't say "better," just "more interesting." Going to be fun ... and the Frys folks have to be loving this.

All right,  your turn: How will Tiger fare in his return?

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