The question I get asked most often by folks who find out what I do for living is "what's up with Tiger?"
Doesn't matter if he's in the middle of a five-win year, a five-month layoff, or a five-year major drought. People just want to know.
What's up with Tiger?
What's up with Tiger right now is that he's coming back from a semi-major back surgery to a tournament for which he may or may not be totally prepared.
My favorite quote from Tuesday's press conference was this one:
Tiger: "I'm out there pumping 8-irons 135 and that's all I have."— Kyle Porter (@KylePorterCBS) June 24, 2014
Woods promises the risk this week is "minimal" and the goal is the same as it always is.
"Expectations don't change," said Woods. "(Winning the tournament is) the ultimate goal. It's just that it's going to be a little bit harder this time. I just haven't had the amount of prep and reps that I would like, but I'm good enough to play, and I'm going to give it a go."
But let's be realistic about this -- Woods probably isn't going to win this week and he's probably not going to win the British Open or the PGA Championship in August.
He even said he was trying to figure out a way to backdoor into the FedEx Cup Playoffs.
"I'm just trying to get in the Playoffs somehow," said Woods. He's 209th in the rankings right now, right behind the immortal Jose Coceres.
So what is success?
If Woods wins once and submits one top 10 finish in one of the final two majors, in 2014 that's a successful year for him. That's the standard, I think.
Last time Woods missed this much time (2011) he finished T37 at the Bridgestone Invitational after sitting out four months. Then he missed the cut at the PGA Championship.
Don't be surprised if that's the same scenario we see in 2014 until he gets his sea legs back.
The interesting thing to me is what this little GIF looks like in five or more years:
Woods admitted on Tuesday (and has said before) that he's not what he once was physically. And for him to even have a puncher's chance at chasing down the Golden Bear he at the very least must stay close to 100 percent healthy for the next decade.
Just like MJ, I've got a fadeaway now," he said. "I've had to rely on different parts of my game and strategy and understand how course management skills are improved."
He's feeling better, though, and that's what's most important right now. Maybe that's a good thing -- maybe we'll get some sort of byzantine amalgamation of 1999 Creative Tiger with 2014 Wise Tiger.
Maybe not, but maybe that's what the back surgery did for him. Or rather, to him.
Either way, Woods is ready to roll.
"Probably a good two years since I've felt this way, because I had the Achilles, and that went away, and then I started getting this back thing," he said.
"But the thing is, initially with my back, it was week-to-week. You know, I have good weeks where I felt fantastic, and those were the weeks I actually played well last year."
He had five wins last year, need I remind you. And he's easily been the best golfer on the planet since 2012.
PGA Tour Wins Since 2012: 8: Tiger 7: 6: 5: 4: Kuch, Rory, Zach, Sneds. 3: Bubba, Scott, Phil, DJ, Walker, Dufner, Reed.— Jamie Kennedy (@jamieonsport) June 24, 2014
So yes Tiger is feeling better but not 100 percent with his swing, but he's still the greatest golfer of this and nearly any generation and he's still going to "give it a go" for the rest of the season.
He's been carrying the masses for so long, maybe they can return the favor over the next few months. And if not, he's still got that MJ fadeaway.
That's what's up with Tiger.