So, by now, we’ve pretty much narrowed the tourney’s Tiger is coming back to three: Match Play, the CA at Doral or Arnie’s event at Bay Hill.  I know I’m leaving out the Honda, the PODS Transitions (wtf?) and the Shell Houston Open, but he wouldn’t play these events if the PGA allowed appearance fee money (actually…nevermind, I’m gonna save that topic) so why even bother.  The three above are the only ones he’s coming to, like it or not, so lets take a look at where I’d come back if I were Tiger.

Match Play: This has been the hot rumor for Tiger’s return, something I don’t really see happening.  What does he have to gain by playing a bunch of schmucks in a highly volatile format at a course that will do nothing to prepare him for the regular season?  Sure, he has the best chance of winning here because he doesn’t need to score well against a field, just against one guy, but still…why bother?

Sure, he’ll have the reasonably warm weather, the dry air and flat course that will protect his knee, but aren’t we a little past that?  Shouldn’t he be TESTING it?  And while the format will be the easiest to get through, how does that prepare you for a season’s worth of stroke play?  It doesn’t.  And Match Play, the event, not the style, is terrible and needs to be moved ASAP.  Tiger showing up will just keep it in ‘zona forever, which sucks.  So while we all want to see him back, I hope it isn’t here.

CA: Doral Doral Doral.

Tiger Woods loves Doral.  Doral loves Tiger Woods (?).  It’s too perfect not to happen.  Flat course which is good for the knee.  Long course which will test the knee adequately.  Florida weather which is relatively close to his home…if Tiger’s debut isn’t here, then one of two things is happening…one, the knee is worse than he’s letting on or two, he’s not confident yet.

Bay Hill: Here’s my rationale for choosing Bay Hill as my debut if I were Tiger.  Bay Hill is a truly remarkable course that will be a stern test for his game and the greens, while not that similar to Augusta’s, will more adequately prepare him than Doral’s would.  While Doral isn’t exactly an easy course, it’s challenge is more in the length than the design, and would you really want to come back to play a course where you’re really going to be putting strain on your knees or one you have to use a little more strategy on and back off the power?

The other thing that I like about Bay Hill is that the field isn’t quite a WGC events’.    While players will do anything for Arnie, the event at Bay Hill is hardly star studded, and Tiger would have a lot less pressure from the other top players in the world.  If you’re getting your competitive sea legs back under you, wouldn’t a weaker field seem like a better place to start getting the game back in gear?  Does to me.

So to recap…Match Play sucks and Tim Finchem is a moron and Tiger will probably tee it up at Doral even though I think it’d make more sense to postpone any return until Bay Hill.  Then again, I’m not Tiger Woods.