Devil Ball Golf - Golf

Tiger Woods was so clearly unprepared for the rigors of tournament play this week at The Players Championship that it's reasonable enough to wonder a.) why the heck he came back in the first place and b.) whether someone may have "encouraged" him to take the short jaunt up the coast to Ponte Vedra.

Why, who could want Tiger Woods to play at their tournament so badly they could get him to override apparent medical necessity and simple common sense to get him out on the course? Who, indeed?

"The idea that we would pressure him to play is ludicrous," PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said on CNBC Friday morning. "We don't pressure any player to play the tournament. In this case the suggestion is somehow he was hurt and we got him to play anyway. Tiger doesn't enter a tournament unless he thinks he can win. I was on the range with him Tuesday, I watched him hit balls. He practiced that day, he practiced Wednesday hard. And he tweaked it yesterday. So, nonissue."

Nonissue? To the tour, perhaps. But for whatever reason, Woods made the dubious decision to play this week. The prevailing rumor, advanced on The Golf Channel Thursday night, was that Woods "owed" Finchem one for Finchem's decision to allow Woods to use the TPC Sawgrass clubhouse for Woods' first press conference post-Hydrant.

And, as usual, since Woods cloaks everything he does in secrecy and nonanswers, we'll probably never know why he made such a disastrous move. As it is, the dawn of Tiger 2.0 looks farther away than ever.

[Visor tip: Shackelford]

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