What was really encouraging to hear about the game Woods played at the weekend with US President Donald Trump, world No 1 Dustin Johnson and the long-time PGA Tour player, Brad Faxon, was that he seems to have finally accepted that he can no longer try to hit the ball out of sight. I am stiffer, I'm fused.
As was the case 12 months ago, it will mark the tournament host's return from back surgery, having undergone his fourth procedure in 18 months shortly after last year's promising comeback - he led the star-studded field in birdies - proved to be a false dawn, both for Woods himself and his many loyal fans.
"Tiger looked great to me, " he said in an interview with Golfweek. "He was not concerned about swinging hard and going at it with driver", Faxon observed. "The ball flight, the sound off the club, all of it was right there".
And in a practice round with Rickie Fowler and Patrick Reed, Tiger was consistently outdriving Reed by at least 15 yards.
"I'm looking forward to competing again and trying to find the rhythm and feel of tournament golf". "I don't want to make it sound like I'm saying he's going to win next week". The filmmaker said that the one-time golfing great was in the "sunken place" after images of the Woods and Trump surfaced.
Woods explained that his surgeon initially cleared him to start hitting putts, which had been the most hard thing to do before the surgery, and he gradually made his way through his bag, first hitting driver just 150 yards.
While the South Florida residents spend time together away from the course, including celebrating Thomas' recent PGA Championship title, this is believed to be the first time that the 41-year-old Woods and 24-year-old Thomas have teed it up during an official event. For sure, though, he said he was excited to be back on track with his fitness and anxious to see how he stacked up against some of the world's best.
Other notable pairings at the Hero include World No. 1 Dustin Johnson with U.S. Open victor Brooks Koepka, an Open Championship rematch between Jordan Spieth and Matt Kuchar, and Race to Dubai victor Tommy Fleetwood playing with Justin Rose.
"It's nice to compare my game to some of the other guys, like Dustin or Rickie or Rory [McIlroy]", Woods diplomatically noted about guys who have actually been playing in tourneys while he was on the DL. It's nice to do something like that and compete and have a couple little denominations [a bet] we're playing for.