By The Devel's Advocate
SO, at the age of 40, Eldrick is coming back. You'll know him better as Tiger Woods.
The organisers of his first scheduled tournament, next month's Safeway Open, can now let their marketing people stand down. Tiger's presence ensures that the event will be monitored by the entire golfing world, just as he himself was in the glory years.
There are some – perhaps many – in the sport who don't like Woods. That's their prerogative, but no one figure has done more to popularise golf. He arrived as a young black man in a white person's world and captured the imagination like no player before or since.
At the risk of stating the bleeding obvious, we can only hope that this comeback – after a prolonged absence – is more successful than his previous attempts to cast aside the ravages of time.
It is now more than eight years – EIGHT – since Woods won a major. That US Open victory, itself won despite a bad knee injury, is almost certain to be his last.
Some have suggested that a one-off 15th major, such as that by Jack Nicklaus when he was aged 46 at Augusta National in 1986, could yet be possible. For me there are too many scars, both mental and physical, for that to happen.
It shows you how quickly events can take a downward plunge. In the early years of this century, when Woods was winning majors for fun, I would have staked my mortgage on him being the man to finally break the Nicklaus record of 18 majors.
It wasn't a case of would he? It was simply a matter of when – and after that how many more would he win.
His injury problems, and the jaw-dropping revelations about his sexual philandering which led to his wife, Elin Nordegren, divorcing him, cast aside for ever the cloak of near-invincibility which was so integral to the Woods' armoury.
He was no longer to be feared.
Nowadays Tiger is still a man to be treated with some wariness, but the aura has gone. He may not yet have been reduced to the status of the punch-drunk former boxing champion, but his powers are diminished.
We see this in his choice of tournaments. He will again be back at the Turkish Airlines Open, and the organisers are understandably delighted.
We can only assume that Tiger's bank manager will be as well. Hard though it will be for Tiger to swallow, he may now be playing primarily for money, not titles.
The Devel's Advocate is our resident golf blogger. With long experience of covering golf there aren't many issues he doesn't have an opinion on!