Joined The Augusta Chronicle as a sports columnist in February 2001. Previously covered a myriad of sports including golf, NFL, NHL and college basketball in five years for the News & Record in Greensboro, N.C. Served as a sports designer and editor at the Winston-Salem Journal, Newport News Daily Press and Charlottesville Daily Progress. Started professional career as a small college and minor-league baseball writer for the News & Daily Advance in Lynchburg, Va., in 1989.
Posted February 19, 2009 05:54 pm - Updated February 19, 2009 06:08 pm

Tiger upstages Phil

The news was released on Tiger Woods' website at 5 p.m. Thursday that the No. 1 golfer in the world would return from his surgically induced hiatus next week at the WGC Match Play.

Here's just a couple of random thoughts about it all.

1) The timing of the announcement made you wonder whether it was sending a subtle message to rival Phil Mickelson. The left-hander -- off to a dismal start on his usually bankable West Coast swing -- posted his best round since Tiger went dormant last June. But the 63 that Mickelson shot on Thursday in his title defense at Riviera was immediately downgraded to Page 2 news when the Golf Channel began breathlessly announcing Tiger's return. They already had a TV promo ad queued up before the hour was over. Poor Phil can't catch a break these days.

2) Just the day before, Tiger's caddie Stevie Williams was signaling in a rambling interview in his home New Zealand that the return of the king might be a few weeks away. Maybe the long-time looper isn't as in the loop as we think. He certainly has been talking more than usual for a guy who hasn't seen his boss in months -- stirring up trouble with untoward comments about the aforementioned Mickelson in December. Did Tiger give his caddie a bad yardage on his return date?

3) The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 12,269 on June 16, 2008 -- a day of slow trading attributed largely to so many people spending their Monday morning watching Tiger defeat Rocco Mediate in an epic 19-hole playoff at the U.S. Open. A week later it was down nearly 1,000 points. Minutes before Tiger's return was posted, the Dow closed Thursday at a six-year low of 7,465 -- 40 percent below the last time we saw Tiger. If stocks rebound next week and start going back up, maybe President Obama should consider nominating Woods to that still vacant Commerce Secretary post.

4) Friend and neighbor John Cook played with Tiger earlier this week and declared that the healthy Woods is "as good or better" than he ever was before. Considering Woods won 10 of the last 13 events he played AFTER tearing his ACL following the 2007 British Open, how scary is that?

5) Just how bummed is former Clemson star D.J. Trahan? Ranked No. 66 in the world, Trahan needs two people to stay away from Tucson next week in order to get a spot in the 64-person Match Play field. Not only is that one vacancy now filled, but if Trahan does somehow sneak into the field he'll likely draw Tiger in the first round. Ouch!

6) Is there any doubt who has just been installed as the prohibitive favorite for the Masters in April?

So after eight long months, the star attraction in golf is coming back. The only person other that Trahan bummed about that news might be Mickelson.