It's funny how quickly opinions change.
Hearken back, if you will, to mid-May of this current season.
Woods was a dynamo who couldn't be stopped, and this isn't just my opinion—he was playing as he did in the days of old. After Woods won The Players Championship, nobody could argue he wasn't the top player in the world.
He had won his fourth tournament of the year in just his sixth stroke-play start and had finished in fourth place at the Masters in April.
Tiger was hot.
Even more telling than his four victories was the fact that he managed to win at TPC Sawgrass—a course that had given him fits since he won The Players Championship back in 2001.
He displayed excellent accuracy off the tee and into the greens at Sawgrass, hitting nearly 68 percent of fairways in regulation and just over 76 percent of greens in regulation.
Already the No 1 player in the world once again, Woods' arrow was still pointing up.
Little did we know, Woods suffered a strained elbow on his left arm during "one of the rounds" on his way to victory, as noted by Jason Sobel of the Golf Channel.
As you're likely aware, Woods' game has gone downhill fast since then.
He finished in 65th place at the Memorial Tournament before finishing in 32nd place at the 2013 U.S. Open, where he posted his career-worst four-round total, as noted by ESPN's SportsCenter:
But Woods' game didn't fall apart—he was playing hurt.
He clearly re-aggravated his elbow injury during his first round at Merion after hacking out of the brutal rough. Woods played all four rounds of the U.S. Open in obvious pain, and his game suffered as a result of his inflamed elbow.
There have been plenty of narratives spun in the past month-and-a-half, painting pictures of a man whose career will never again reach the dizzying heights of his prime.
In the immortal words of Chad Johnson (also known as Ochocinco), "Child please!"
Woods may not win the 2013 British Open, but he'll certainly be in contention.
After a nine-hole practice round at Muirfield on Sunday, he assured reporters of his good health, as noted by Ewan Murray of The Guardian:
It's fine. It feels good. I took a couple of weeks off and that's why I didn't play and I started practicing last week. It felt fine.
That's one of the reasons I let it heal, so I could go right back at it. I better not push it. The ground is going to be hard over here, obviously. I just wanted to make sure everything was healed before I came over.
While it will be surprising if Woods doesn't display a bit of rust after a month-long layoff, nobody should expect him to struggle like he did in his two previous tournaments.
He has looked comfortable thus far during his practice time on the course at Muirfield, and all signs point to a fully healthy Tiger this weekend. Provided his elbow is truly healed, and provided he doesn't suffer another aggravation, Woods will surely be in contention throughout the tournament.
Follow me on Twitter @JesseReed78
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!