Tiger Woods: How the Bridgestone Marks the Beginning of the Rest of His Career

John BurkeContributor IJuly 29, 2011

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL - MAY 11:  Tiger Woods smiles during a practice round prior to the start of THE PLAYERS Championship held at THE PLAYERS Stadium course at TPC Sawgrass on May 11, 2011 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

By now, I am sure you have all heard the news that Tiger Woods will make his return to competitive golf this coming week at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. 

Logically, the Bridgestone Invitational is an excellent place for Tiger to make his return. He has won on the Firestone course on seven occasions. He clearly knows how to play well on the course, and feels comfortable.

So, it should come as no surprise that he will make his return here. Woods claimed earlier this summer, "I’m just going to learn my lesson...and apply it this time and come back when I’m 100 percent. I don’t know when that is going to be.” Given that, we are all left to assume that Woods is actually healthy this time.

Personally, I would like to think he stayed true to his word. It would provide him no benefit by returning too soon, risking further injury. 

Whether Woods is fully healthy or not does not matter at this point. He claims he is healed, and until I have reason not to believe him I will take his word. 

This year, we have seen Woods nearly win the Masters, and play nine holes at the Players Championship before withdrawing due to injury. That is not much to be confident about. 

Since withdrawing, Woods spent more time doing everything but golfing. As a result, his swing was bound to suffer. The man you would expect Woods would turn to at this time, swing coach Sean Foley, claims he and Woods have not been working together lately. 

And as Woods was sitting in his new home in Florida, he watched his world ranking slip. Currently, Woods is ranked at 21st. That marks the lowest ranking for Woods since his pre-major winning days. 

With all of this news, most of it bad, Woods is most likely discouraged.

I hope the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational gets Woods excited. The good news is the tournament features no cut, meaning Woods will play the weekend no matter how poorly he is hitting the ball. 

And as much fun as it would be to sit here and claim Woods will do what he did last year and shoot 18-over-par for the tournament, I can't do that. 

You saw how Woods played at the Masters. It would be foolish to say he won't compete just as well at this coming weekend. 

Woods will do well at Firestone. Heck, Woods needs to do well at the Firestone. It has been a while since he hit a golf ball in a situation that meant anything. 

He needs to do well for himself and himself only. A high finish will tell him he can still compete with the "young guns." And once Woods regains some confidence, the only thing standing between him and five more majors is his putter.