After a Travelers Championship that saw many top golfers take a break, some of the big boys are back for the AT&T National. The obvious headliner is Tiger Woods, the host of the event and the 2009 champion.
After a two-year break, the tournament returns to Congressional Country Club. The last time the AT&T National was played there, Tiger emerged with the win. As a fan, I think the pressure is on him again. However, winning an event like this shouldn't sway anyone's opinion. Seeing that Tiger has already won two events in 2012, only the majors can save his reputation.
There has been a lot of talk about Tiger's comeback throughout the year. When he won the Arnold Palmer Invitational, everyone thought he would make his grand return at the Masters. Instead, he finished in a tie for 40th. He won the Memorial, setting up what many thought would be a U.S. Open title for him. After a solid first two rounds, Woods faded out of contention early in the final round. Based on that trend, we probably shouldn't be surprised if he earns win at this event. If he does, some people will no doubt think that he is the favorite for the British Open. However, I'm not taking the bait.
If Woods wins the AT&T National, it would be a nice win for him. He would have three wins on the year, a feat that most golfers would love to have. However, Tiger is not most golfers. The standard for him is higher. This is a guy that has won three or more tournaments in a year 11 different times. Is it really that exciting if he does it again? More importantly, does a third mid-level win really mean that Tiger is the favorite at a major? We've heard that talk twice already this year, and I have no doubt that we will hear it again should he win at Congressional. I just hope that people know better.
At this point, it doesn't matter if Tiger wins these kinds of events. Until he wins a major, no one should think he is anywhere close to his old form. Even if he does that, I don't think he will ever resemble the Tiger of old. The only thing that matters with Tiger right now is majors. The day we think otherwise is the day that he stops being a superstar. If he really wants people to say he is back, he had better win a major. Another title at the AT&T National won't do the trick.
* - Mark Paul is an avid golf fan. He has watched and played the game since high school.