The (Golf) King is back

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By JIM O'SHEA
College Contributor Network

The King is back where he belongs. No, not LeBron James. Well I mean yes LeBron, but not in this sense. And no, Elvis is not coming back from the dead. But, Tiger Woods is coming back from yet another extended time on the "DL."

The 38-year-old has absolutely dominated the golf world since he began in 1997. 14 majors in just over 11 years and 79 PGA Tour victories, which is only three shy of the record. And Woods has also been No. 1 in the world for 683 weeks. For all you non-math guys like me, that's over 13 years!

And the hype that surrounds him may be even greater. When Tiger is playing, people tune in. Don't believe me? Well just consider the greatest event in golf every year, the Masters. This year, Woods didn't play in it for the first time in his career. The Nielsen ratings of the event were the worst since 1993, before Woods began competing with the best in the world.

Well this week, the Nielsen ratings for the PGA Tour's Hero World Challenge may be a little higher than some expect for a golf event in December. Why? Well, because Tiger is back from yet another injury.

Since his last major win in 2008, he has not been himself at all. And no that is not just because of his off-the-course issues that led to a divorce after the most infamous run into a fire hydrant five years ago. Woods' body, like his marriage, has not held up.

Since 2010, he has dealt with a bulging disk, knee injury, Achilles' tendon injury, Achilles' tendon (again), and lower back problems. The latter has been what has led to Woods' worst year of his career. It is the first time he has ever not eclipsed the top-ten in any tournament. He has just one less missed cut and withdrawal (four) than made cuts (five).

After his second extended leave of absence from the golf course in 2014, Tiger Woods is returning this week in Windermere, FL for his annual tournament. The 18-man field at the Hero World Challenge may not look like much, but when considering who is in it, it is a tournament worth noting.

Patrick Reed, No. 26 in the world, is the lowest-ranked player in the field. Bubba Watson, Keegan Bradley, Rickie Fowler, Jordan Spieth, and Graeme McDowell will all be there. It is full of the best of the best, which can be good for Tiger to see where he stacks up amongst the game's elite.

But his score will not be what I'm focusing on over the four days. The way he walks around (with ease or with discomfort from time to time), the way he attacks the ball (with the fierceness he always has or not as hard as usual), and the chances he takes (using a driver off the tee when an iron would due or going for the green in two on a par-5) will be what will truly determine if Tiger can say "I'm baaaack!"


Jim O'Shea is a junior at Syracuse University studying Broadcast and Digital Journalism. Born and raised in Houston, TX. He's an avid Texans and Texas Rangers fan. Also golf is his favorite sport. Follow him on Twitter: @JimOShea4
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