Over the weekend, we learned that Tiger Woods is going to play in the Players Championship.
As always, Tiger's goal is to win a tournament that he enters; that should be the goal of any professional golfer when they enter a tournament.
In this case, winning isn't the only reason that he should play. In a little more than a month, the US Open will take place at Congressional in Washington DC. It is there that he will resume his quest to reach major No. 15.
As I see it, he should actually play at least three times before Congressional. The first of those three is the Players Championship.
After that, he should play in the Byron Nelson Championship, which takes place over Memorial Day Weekend. The third tournament that he should participate in is the Memorial Tournament, which takes place the following week.
If he does that, he could take his standard week off before a major and play the US Open on a schedule that is close to what he played before Thanksgiving of 2009.
A lot of reasons may exist as to why Tiger should or shouldn't play at least twice between the Players Championship and US Open.
I could list all of them, but it really only boils down to three.
Reason No. 1: He has nothing to lose.
Even if Woods plays poorly in all three events, he is sharpening his game for the US Open. He needs to do that.
In his career, Tiger has twice not played between the Masters and the US Open. The first was 2006. He didn't play in that period because of the illness and eventual death of his father, Earl.
2006's US Open was at Winged Foot and was one of the more challenging US Opens in history. His game was not sharp and it showed, as Tiger missed the cut in a major the the first time as a professional.
The second time was in 2008, when he had a knee injury. The US Open that year was at Torrey Pines, where Woods had enjoyed great success. While that wasn't an easy US Opens (if there is such a thing), it was not as tough as Winged Foot two years before.
Tiger won that tournament.
So, the past history of one win and one missed cut doesn't doesn't show us anything. Those two results couldn't be much more different.
So, what does that prove?
This year, the US Open is at Congressional in Washington D.C. While Tiger has won at Congressional before, the closer parallel is 2006. This year's National Championship is likely to produce a winning score above par.
Woods doesn't have to win before the US Open. If nothing else, playing in these tournaments will give him time to find the game that was so sharp on the front-nine at Augusta on Sunday.
He may not need to win, but he does need to get sharp. Most importantly, he needs to stay sharp.
Reason No. 2: He has potentially everything to gain.
For the sake of argument, let's say he plays in all three of the aforementioned tournaments.
Now, let's say that he wins at least once. That puts an element of doubt in the minds of every one of his opponents, especially the ones that were around during his dominant years. This would be especially true if he won either going away or with a big comeback on Sunday.
"Maybe we missed our chance. He has recovered from the injuries, scandal, and public relations hit, now he is back to form."
These are all thoughts that every golfer in the world could be thinking as soon as Tiger wins.
And if some doubt enters into the minds of his competitors if Tiger wins one of those tournaments, imagine how much doubt they would have if he won more than one of those.
Lastly, I know he isn't playing his best golf right now, but he has won at all of these events before; actually, he has won the Memorial four times.
No, he anything hasn't won in a while, but betting against him would not be smart.
Reason No. 3: These are all tournaments that he normally plays in.
If he doesn't play well in the Players Championship I would actually recommend that he play in another one or two tournaments before Congressional. But that would mean playing in events that haven't ever been part of his normal routine.
These three events are all tournaments that he plays in basically every year.
With the exception of the International team events, The Players Championship is the most prestigious non-major. Playing there is obvious.
While Byron Nelson passed away in 2006, the tournament still bears his name. Woods has always made it a point to play in the tournaments of the legends.
He always plays the Bay Hill Invitational in March, which is put on by Arnold Palmer.
That logic applies in an even greater way at the Memorial. The legend that hosts that tournament is Jack Nicklaus, the same person whose records Tiger has been chasing for his entire career.
Other than the possible questionable health of his knee, is there is any reason that Tiger shouldn't play in all three of these events? Maybe there is and I am just not thinking of it.
If those reasons do exist, I would love to hear them.
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