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You can hear the huge sigh of relief from the entire sports world upon hearing the great news that Tiger Woods is returning to play this week at the Quicken Loans National at historic Congressional Country Club just outside Washington, D.C. Tiger, the former world’s-number-one male golfer, has been out of golf since having back surgery on March 31.

The golf industry has been going through a major withdrawal in his sudden absence. From TV ratings to sports golf marketing, apparel, and corporate sponsorships, the industry as a whole has lost an estimated $15 billion this year because Woods could not play. The Masters and United States Open, the first two Majors, suffered huge record losses in TV ratings shares.

No athlete since Michael Jordan moves the VU meter like Woods. Woods had a surgery called microdiscectomy on March 31 and has not played since.

Woods has been careful to listen to his doctors and not rush back to the game. The Quicken Loans National is Tiger’s tournament; his Tiger Woods Foundation benefits from the tournament.

What are the expectations for Tiger? With 79 career wins on the PGA Tour and 14 Major Championships at age 38, Woods plays for one reason and that is to win.

That’s why he is the first and only athlete to break the billion-dollar mark in career earnings on and off the course. And that includes some well documented personal issues that cost him his marriage and damaged his once-pristine reputation and brand. Even if he does not win another tournament he would be regarded as one of the greatest if not the greatest golfer of all time.

Health, however, is key, and Tiger has had health issues to overcome before. But somehow he has been able to battle his way back to the top. It goes without saying that if he can come back from back surgery successfully, regain his form as No.1, and continue his pursuit of Jack Nicklause’s  record of 18 Major wins and Sam Snead’s 82 career PGA Tour wins, that’s asking a lot.

But after all, this is Tiger Woods. The Open Championship is next month at Royal Liverpool, where he last won one of his three Claret Jugs as Open Champion in 2006.

Tiger, welcome back! You have been missed, and good luck in your pursuit of a comeback from back surgery.

 

Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm, and at www.Gamedaygold.com. He also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to [email protected], or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.
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