Tiger Woods: Would Players Championship Victory Return Him to Vintage Tiger?

David Kindervater@TheDGKCorrespondent IMay 9, 2012

Tiger Woods
Tiger WoodsStreeter Lecka/Getty Images

After winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational back in late March, his first official PGA Tour victory in two-and-a-half years, Tiger Woods has slumped to poor finishes at the Masters Tournament (T40) and the Wells Fargo Championship (missed cut).

It certainly wasn't what was expected after an impressive five-shot victory at Bay Hill six weeks ago, but it is the next chapter in the ongoing saga of whether Tiger can return to the form that has made him one of the best golfers—maybe the best golfer—to ever play the game.

At this week's highly regarded Players Championship, Tiger will be among an elite list of names with a better-than-average chance at victory, as he is at every golf tournament he enters. But some might even say he's flying under the radar, if that's possible for one of the most popular figures in professional sports.

Considering his recent struggles, though—and his less-than-stellar record at TPC Sawgrass—it's not far-fetched to think a Tiger Woods victory this week would be a big surprise.

Still, should Tiger manage to outlast a field of 143 other players that includes the top-ranked golfer in the world, Rory McIlroy, recently inducted World Golf Hall of Famer, Phil Mickelson, and a plethora of outstanding talent that includes nine of the top-10 players in the Official World Golf Ranking, it would be a tremendous boost for his confidence. And some added fuel for the hype that will surround next month's U.S. Open.

But not much more.

I'm not predicting a Tiger Woods victory this week. I'd be more apt to pick Jason Dufner or Sergio Garcia before I'd go with Tiger.

But if he pulls it off—as impressive as that would be—it won't mean we're witnessing a return to the vintage form that made him the most dominant player in the world for most of his career. It will mean his second victory of the 2012 season and the 73rd win of his PGA Tour career.

And that's good enough for now.

Until Tiger is consistently carding top 10s, there are simply too many questions and too many inconsistencies in his game to think otherwise.