If Tiger Woods ever wants to win another major championship, returning to his 2013 form at Quicken Loans National would be a great first step.
On Friday, Woods announced on Facebook that he would compete in the tournament at Congressional Country Club next week. This shocked golf. Ask Comcast SportsNet's Rob Carlin.
I would say the overwhelming thought was there was almost 0% Tiger Woods would play at Congressional.. major surprise..— Rob Carlin (@RobCarlinCSN) June 20, 2014
CBS Sports' Kyle Porter speculated early this week that Woods would return for The Open Championship on July 17. He missed by three weeks. But like Carlin said, no one saw a comeback coming this quickly.
Woods said in his announcement that he will be a "bit rusty" and use the Quicken Loans National to get back in shape. This is understandable. He just had back surgery on March 31.
However, ESPN's Bob Harig doesn't recognize this version of Woods claiming to use a PGA Tour event to warm up. Three years ago, Harig asked Woods about setting a lower goal for himself after a four-month layoff. Woods replied, "Why show up at a tournament if you're not there to win? There's no reason to come.''
This is the mindset Woods should have at Congressional. Of course, Harig assumed Woods is only returning because of the Tiger Woods Foundation’s connection to the tournament.
The Quicken Loans event benefits the Tiger Woods Foundation, and it is hard to believe Woods would return at this tournament if that were not the case. Now in its eighth year, Woods would have missed it for the fourth time had he not decided to play, and Woods knows more than anyone just how much his absence from a tournament is felt.
Will Woods win a major in 2014?
Even if his foundation’s involvement is his motivation, Woods shouldn’t treat it as an exhibition.
Last year, Woods got incredibly close to winning his 15th major. He tied for fourth in the Masters and sixth in The Open Championship, the eighth and ninth times he's finished top six since he last won a major in 2008.
Woods also won five PGA tournaments in 2013 and finished atop the money list for the first time since 2009. If he's golfing this effectively, he can end his major drought. But he doesn't have forever to regain this effectiveness.
This year, Woods will turn 39 years old. If he can't return to form by The Open or PGA Championships, he won't get another shot at a major until 2015, when 40 will be breathing down his neck.
In the only PGA tournaments Woods completed this season, the Farmers Insurance Open and World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship, he finished tied for 80th and 25th, respectively. He has a long way to go to get back to the Woods who actually won back-to-back events in 2013.
As quick as it is, the Quicken Loans National is an important place to start.
David Daniels is a columnist at Bleacher Report. He tweets, too.