A tiger by the tale

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_D5C5045brianby Brian Clarey

So it’s settled, then, is it?

The fallen hero Tiger Woods, barring some freak accident or alarming development, is coming to Greensboro to play in his first-ever Wyndham Championship.

And as can be expected, the hooples are just abuzz about it.

More seasoned sports fans will argue — and they love to argue — that an appearance by the mediocre pro he has become is hardly big news. That Tiger’s best years are way back on the front 9 and that he’ll be lucky to duff his way onto the seniors tour. That it’s been almost 20 years since he first won the Masters, and that he’s not even in the Top 100 anymore.

And they’re right that, certainly, an inordinate amount of attention will be paid to the No. 187 player in FedEx Cup standings by the provincials at the tournament.

But still… it could happen.

Golf is a solitary game, and after the mechanics of the swing are mastered, very much a mental exercise. There’s a math in golf — distances, angles, speed, friction — as well as muscle memory. Once a golfer lands on the green, the game becomes psychological.

The Donald Ross course at Sedgefield Country Club has been torn apart by young and old pros alike. I was there in 2008 when Carl Pettersson took the grande dame for 9 under par, finishing the weekend at -21. And there have been a lot of big weekends on this course since then. If Tiger could shake his personal issues and back problems, reach deep and find that disciplined and brilliant player we once knew him to be, he could destroy Sedgefield.

And that’s why we’ll watch. For the first couple days, anyway.

Odds are pretty slim that Tiger takes Sedgefield — though he could probably use that $5 million purse these days. Victory for a golfer in Woods’ position would be making the cut on Friday and playing through the weekend. Even a win wouldn’t get him into the playoffs, so there’s not all that much on the line. But there’s always the possibility that the guy will show up and give us a glimpse of the greatness that was.

A good showing here would give him a strong finish to the season, and maybe ignite some of the spark that built his name.

And it would give the hooples a real show to see Tiger Woods wearing red on Sunday as they trailed him around the course at Sedgefield.

Odds are pretty slim that Tiger takes Sedgefield — though he could probably use that $5 million purse these days.