Tiger Woods: British Open Sure to Be Tiger's Return to Limelight

Dan Kukla@@kooks13Correspondent IIIJuly 9, 2012

Even when he can't wear Sunday red, Woods aways seems to find his way into the limelight.
Even when he can't wear Sunday red, Woods aways seems to find his way into the limelight.Hunter Martin/Getty Images

Tiger Woods' slide at the Greenbrier Classic just sets him up for an even bigger surge at the British Open.

No golfer has given fans a more tumultuous roller-coaster ride this year. The fact that Woods is by far the most dynamic player in golf's history makes all of his twists and turns even more thrilling.

Get ready for the biggest stomach-dropper yet.

When Woods missed Friday's cut at Greenbrier, it marked the first time in seven years that he had missed two cuts in one PGA Tour season. The last time it happened was in 2005 when he failed to reach the weekend at either the EDS Byron Nelson Classic or the Funai Classic at Walt Disney World Resort.

The golf world gasped when Woods missed the cut at the Wells Fargo Championship in May.

Woods then bounced back with victories at the Memorial and the AT&T National. He still stands as the only player with three PGA Tour victories this season. He also leads the FedEx Cup points standings and the money list with the best average score (69.08) on tour.

It was only a week ago that people were all but crowning Woods as the British Open champion after his win at Congressional. Now we want to completely write him off.

When Woods wins, water cooler conversations across America declare him "back." When Woods falters, people quickly point to his drought in majors dating back to 2008 as evidence that he is still far from vintage form.

Vegas has taken a much more stable perspective through all the ups and downs. Even after Woods missed a cut for only the ninth time in his 16-year career, he remained the betting odds favorite to win at Royal Lytham & St. Anne's.

Woods is back. He's been back for a while. His aforementioned lead in every significant PGA Tour  measurable this season proves it. Vegas knows it, and we all know the house always wins.

Everyone overestimates the difference between winning a major and any other PGA Tour event. Majors do come with their own level of pressure and required preparation, but crunch time on the professional golf course is always tense. Consistently winning non-majors still requires elite focus and execution.

If Woods wins six tournaments this year but no majors, does that mean he is still not back? We will likely never see anyone reach Woods' level when he won seven majors from 1999-2002 and then six more from from 2005-2008.

But just because Woods is not that Woods anymore doesn't mean he is no longer capable of winning multiple majors again. Woods is still the best player in the world, regardless of what the Official World Golf Rankings say. The major victories will come, whether that happens at the British Open or later.

The stage of a major alone is enough for Woods to command every inch of the limelight. The drama will only increase if—and in all likelihood, when—he continues to play over the weekend.

Golf fans always give grace to Woods in spite of any sins from his past. We find ourselves irrationally rooting against other players we have never even heard of—much less know—when he is in contention on Sunday.

These next two weeks leading up to the British Open will feel like the slow climb of a roller-coaster car making its gradual ascent. When we finally reach the climax, you will be watching with everyone else to see how this thrill ride twists and turns out.