By Dan Bernstein–
CBSChicago.com senior columnist
(CBS) He’s coming back, but the game has largely moved on.
Tiger Woods, all beaten and broken and surgically repaired at age 40, announced the he “hopes” to rejoin the PGA Tour at next month’s Safeway Open in Napa, Calif., after leaving it in August 2015. It’s yet another return, and while this one will receive the usual outsized attention for one of the game’s all-time greats, our expectations are now tempered.
Only if he’s downplaying his level of health or the sharpness of his competitive game for dramatic effect will we be in for a pleasant surprise, because not many seem to agree with NBC’s Johnny Miller in his prediction that Woods will “win six to eight tournaments, at least.”
A handful of young stars have provided compelling viewing since Woods’s play first began to erode, and this season’s sight of four first-time major winners only highlighted the overall quality of the worldwide field on tour.
It’s appropriate that longtime sponsor Nike has exited the golf equipment business during his absence, and Woods will have another company’s clubs for the first time in years. At this point, he comes back to the sport as individual brand as much as important golfer.