Planet Golf — 19 March 2012 by Jim Street
Tiger returns with six birdies

All eyes of the golf world will be on Tiger Woods this coming week during his surprisingly quick return from a walk-off finish the last time he played – a week ago in the World Golf Championship.

Only a few days after Tiger limped off the course midway through the final round of the WGC because of a fare-up of an old injury of his left Achilles heel, he played the first round of the two-day, made-for-TV Tavistock Cup on Monday without any visible discomfort.

Tiger birdied six 0f the 18 holes he played.

Even so, the potential of six rounds in seven days is a hectic schedule even for a completely healthy golfer.

While the golfing public will be focused on Tiger’s swing all week, I expect many foot doctors around the country will be more interested in the most discussed Achilles heel in the world.

Doctors surely are curious as to just how much golf can Tiger’s troublesome left Achilles can take before 1) inflaming again or 2) become a full-blown tear.

What boggles me is that this golf-ever-day plan comes on the heels (sorry) of him saying, “I decided to be smart about it and not risk further injury,” immediately after his withdrawal from the WGC.

“Looking forward to competing,” said Woods five days later.

Huh?

Give him credit for wanting to put the finishing touches that seems to be a winnable swing and possibly a winning attitude going into the final stretch before the Masters, but this week could end up becoming more of a setback in the long run, although the media interest will be huge from Monday through Sunday – if he makes it that far.

The urge to win another major — he hasn’t won one in four years — obviously drives Tiger. He remains four majors shy of Jack Nicklaus’ all-time record, which seems to get further away each time a major is played and Woods does not win.

The Masters is scheduled for April 5-8 and, barring further health issues, Tiger figures to be among the pre-tournament favorites. And this will be his final week of game action to get ready.

“I’m playing well,” he added.  “It’s all starting to come together.”

Hopefully, it all won’t come apart this week.

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Jim Street

Jim’s 40-year sportswriting career started with the San Jose Mercury-News in 1970 and ended on a full-time basis on October 31, 2010 following a 10-year stint with MLB.com. He grew up in Dorris, Calif., several long drives from the nearest golf course. His first tee shot was a week before being inducted into the Army in 1968. Upon his return from Vietnam, where he was a war correspondent for the 9th Infantry Division, Jim took up golf semi-seriously while working for the Mercury-News and covered numerous tournaments, including the U.S. Open in 1982, when Tom Watson made the shot of his life on the 17th hole at Pebble Beach. Jim also covered several Bing Crosby Pro-Am tournaments, the women’s U.S. Open, and other golfing events in the San Francisco area. He has a 17-handicap, never had a hole-in-one, although once he came within two inches of an ace, and witnessed the first round Ken Griffey Jr. ever played – at Arizona State during Spring Training in 1990. Pebble Beach Golf Links, the Kapalua Plantation Course, Pinehurst No. 2, Spyglass Hill, Winged Foot, Torrey Pines, Medinah, Chambers Bay, North Berwick in Scotland, and Princeville are among the courses he has had the pleasure of playing. Hitting the ball down the middle of the fairway is not a strong part of Jim’s game, but he is known (in his own mind) as the best putter not on tour. Most of Jim’s writing career was spent covering Major League baseball, a tenure that started with the Oakland Athletics, who won 101 games in 1971, and ended with the Seattle Mariners, who lost 101 games in 2010. Symmetry is a wonderful thing. He currently lives in Seattle and vacations in Arizona (and other warm climates) as much as possible.

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