February 25, 2009 9:58 AM
Major feats lie ahead in Woods comeback
If I hadn't witnessed the greatness up close with my own eyes, I probably wouldn't give Tiger Woods much chance for a successful defense of his Accenture Match Play championship this week in Arizona.
Not after an eight-month layoff. Not with a surgically-repaired left knee. Not with at least 100 zillion eyeballs watching his every move starting with today's match against unheralded Australian Brendan Jones.
But he is, after all, Tiger Woods. Yes, yes, y'all. You must pick him to win. If you don't, your brain cells are marinating in a serious malaise.
At this time last year I caught Woods in action during the Accenture tournament against Aaron Baddeley. Walked 20 holes inside the ropes with the pair during an intense third-round match.
Steve "Crocodile" Williams, Woods' caddie, snapped at me loudly from the 13th teebox for being a distraction. My eyes nearly watered, but I got over it.
Woods did too, winning the match and the tournament. During the weekend he wore a pained expression on his face while climbing out of bunkers - perhaps a sign that something was not quite right physically.
Woods' win while playing on one healthy leg at the U.S. Open last June is legend. It's February and a lot of you believe he will pick up where he left off - or be even better than before. Woods does.
Of course Woods will say he's better than ever. Truth is he's a ways away from being his absolute best. It's called being human.
And a golfer or two on the PGA Tour has improved during his absence.
We know Woods is all about winning major championships - and claiming the record from the great Jack Nicklaus. A successful defense this week adds another unbelievable chapter in Woods' career.
If he's eliminated today, tomorrow or championship Sunday Woods won't lose sleep in the Arizona desert.
They're all sparring rounds until he arrives at Augusta to play The Masters.
That's when the bell rings and Tiger Woods really comes out swinging.