The injured former champion is set to compete an always-ignored tournament. But he shouldn't be ashamed.
Golf's Frys.com Open has been in existence for all of four years. Part of the PGA Tour's recently installed Fall Series, which takes place after the end-of-season Tour Championship and is usually reserved for mid-level players and those trying to secure their tour card for next year, the tournament is generally overlooked by, well, everyone. Among its winners are the eminently forgettable Cameron Beckman and Troy Matteson, the latter of whom set a 36-hole PGA Tour record by shooting 61-61 in the second and third round of the 2009 Open (both of his career wins came in this event).
And yet the Open, which takes place next month, is the next scheduled tournament for Tiger Woods.
Hampered by multiple knee and Achilles' tendon injuries in recent years, Woods is playing the event in preparation for the President's Cup in November as he struggles to return to top form. Ostensibly, the 14-time major winner is fulfilling a promise to U.S. team captain Fred Couples that he would play competitive golf before the Cup if Couples selected him as a captain's pick. But Woods will undoubtedly welcome the chance to test his balky Achilles in a stroke play event and could gain a huge confidence boost if he wins.
Whatever Tiger's motivations, he is setting a trend that should be emulated by more top athletes in both individual and team sports: rehab starts in lower-tier events. Baseball players almost always begin their return from a stint on the disabled list with a trip to one of their team's minor league affiliates to re-acclimate themselves to the game and test their recuperating bodies. That includes superstars - Alex Rodriguez suited up for the Yankees' Triple A affiliate in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre just two weeks ago. In the case of severely injured stars like Washington Nationals' pitcher Stephen Strasburg, one minor league start can turn into several to prepare a player physically and mentally for a return to the majors.