About time…

So Tiger finally decided to tee it up again after his much discussed knee injury and subsequent surgery and rehab this coming week at the WGC Accenture Match Play at [really lame course] in [golf suburb], Arizona. Well, you’re going to get a smorgasbord of discussion on this so I figured we might as well get it done in one shot.

So How’s the Knee?:

Supposedly fine.

Lets be realistic here for a second…for all the wonder that is modern medicine, the surgery was intensive. There’s a solid chance that Tiger is going to feel some setbacks or aches and pains, and there is even a chance of something even worse happening, so I don’t think it’s a given that he’ll come back as good as ever. That said, we’re all expecting him to not only come back as strong, but stronger, due to the tendancy for vigorous rehab to actually strengthen the injured muscles and tendons, meaning that he’s going to come back the pissed off, motivated killing machine with sparkly new cyborg legs, ready to beat fools down all over again.

How it will effect his swing:

There are two schools of thought here: Lee Trevino’s that he’ll need to bow his left leg at impact, a’la Ben Hogan after the car crash, and slow his swing down, which would make him a more accurate driver. The other is that he shouldn’t change a thing because the muscles will be in better condition and that a swing change will result in other injuries. Tiger’s swing is so effective because, as he transitions his weight from his back foot forward, his left leg straightens, and all the weight transferring is slammed onto that leg, with that joint taking the burden. He swings 120+ mph, so that’s a lot of weight for one knee to bear over the years, especially when he’s had the same knee operated on in the past.

I’m of the school that says he’s going to keep his knee straight…for now. First, Tiger has said that same thing himself, so I don’t really have much of a reason not to take him at his word. Two, he’s still in his golf peak and a good enough athlete to be able to physically withstand it. Three, scaling back changes his game completely, both with course strategy and mindset. Tiger has always relied on his distance to be an advantage and being aggressive, and when you’ve been as successful as he’s been with that approach, it’s not easy to change, and four…

…chicks dig the long ball.

Why Match Play:

As I stated before, I would start somewhere else.

As I stated above, I hate this course.

But it kinda makes sense. Tiger is an amazing match play competitor and has won this event three times, to go with his six Junior and Amatuer Open wins that are match play, and it’s set up in a way where it’s less of a grind of having to eke out every stroke. What does make a lot of sense, though, is why he decided to pick an event that might stretch him out 7 total rounds, on an untested knee, considering he “says” he never enters a tourney he can’t win.

My guess?

The kid is driving him crazy, he hasn’t slept in months, knows he can probably win two or three matches and collect some swanky dough, while making a sponsor happy, and get some time away from the family to sleep. He IS human, after all, remember?

What to expect:

I kinda wish I wasn’t so brazen about Sergio winning two majors this year…

Because Tiger is going to come back like one of those huge, class 5 tornados that you see in Oklahoma tearing through a trailer park.

He’s going to be at full strength, something he wasn’t at the US Open or the Masters last year, or even in 2007, when he played some OUTRAGEOUS golf after the British and absolutely picked apart Southern Hills as the PGA. Now, I don’t expect him to come rip roaring out of the gates at Match Play, or maybe even through Doral, but once he gets confident again that the knee is fine, and gets used to the grind of tournament golf, it’s going to be 2000 all over again.

Tiger HAS to be the favorite at Augusta. At Bethpage, he’ll be the slight favorite over Phil and Sergio. He’ll probably contend at the Open. And at Hazeltine? After a summer that rejuvenates him? Oh man.

He’s not winning the Grand Slam, so lets get that taken care of right now. But, man, you just gotta love his chances…he’s Tiger Woods, after all. For all the Anthony Kim’s (who’s playing like trash lately) and Phil’s and Sergio’s and Vijay’s, it’s still Tiger’s jungle, and despite the emergence of the young guns and Paddy Harrington, there’s nobody out there who can legitimately contend with a healthy, strong, and most importantly, driven Tiger.

Tiger is the best, the baddest motherfucker who ever donned a bright red mock polo. He knows this and is pissed that some plucky, Irish golf-Rudy stole his trophies. All the ancillary non-golf stuff is out of the way…the surgery, the rehab and the birth of his son, so it’s time to get back to work.

And, in the end, what do we get?

Tiger, despite not teeing it up, got the best of Phil again, overshadowing his sublime 63 at Riviera.

The more things change, the more they stay the same…poor Mickeltits.