I'll go ahead and say it since nobody else is going to:
This PGA Tour season has sucked.
The US Open was one massive blowout, Phil Mickelson still doesn't have a top 10 finish, and you could argue that the most dramatic thing that's happened all season involved Patrick Reed and a video camera.
Even the second nine on Sunday at the Masters -- as foolproof an event as we have in golf -- was a letdown.
There have been nine first-time winners on tour this season.
That's great for those guys but not great for golf. This is a sport that, like the NBA, is built on the backs of its stars -- and other than Bubba Watson the American contingent has taken a fat tardy in showing up for the 2013-14 season.
All of this, however, is why it's the perfect time for Tiger Woods to re-introduce himself to the golf world. His return has suddenly made the lull between the US and British Opens must-see TV for golf fans and the rest of the season relevant.
You saw the numbers for the US Open, didn't you? It got a rating that was tripled by soccer. Tripled! By soccer!
Yikes. NBC gets 3.3 overnight rating for final round of US Open w/ Kaymer's huge win. Has to be 1 of lowest (if not lowest) Sunday on record— Austin Karp (@AustinKarp) June 16, 2014
USA-Portugal posts a 9.1 overnight; DC -13.3, Columbus-12.6, NYC- 12.5, Boston- 11.5, Hartford/New Haven-11.3, Providence-11.2, ATL 11.1— Keri Potts (@MsPotts_ESPN) June 23, 2014
The argument is not whether or not golf needs Tiger Woods, it's only about how badly it needs him.
Suddenly the British Open is the event of the year -- Tiger makes his return to the site of his 2006 conquest while everyone else faces off against him.
The thing about Tiger is this: For any star not named Tiger to matter (and thus for golf to matter), they have to win, sometimes dramatically. For Tiger to matter he just has to show up. Which is all it sounds like he's going to do for a while.
"I will be a bit rusty but I want to play myself back into competitive shape," he said. "Excited for the challenge ahead."
But it doesn't matter if he loses by 10 or wins by 10 at this point because there's nobody who doesn't want him to play in golf tournaments.
The greatest thing Tiger offers for non-golf fans (pretty easily defined as those who didn't watch this year's US Open, yes?) is hope. Whether he's leading by three or down six going to Sunday, he always offers that glimmer of the early 2000s.
Now we can sit here all day and argue about how big of a mirage that is but it doesn't matter because golf this year has been abysmal.
The Masters ended with a thud, and nothing that's happened since has moved the needle no matter how hard we try to push the "Kaymer is one of Europe's all-time best" and "Michelle Wie has arrived" storylines.
This sport is desperately in need of a hit.
And Tiger Woods is a hell of a drug.