Rusty Tiger ready to return

The Quicken Loans event benefits the Tiger Woods Foundation, and it is hard to believe Woods would return at this tournament if that were not the case.

Now in its eighth year, Woods would have missed it for the fourth time had he not decided to play, and Woods knows more than anyone just how much his absence from a tournament is felt.

The following week is the Greenbrier Classic, and while Woods has yet to commit to that tournament, he played it two years ago and was supposed to play last year before an elbow injury kept him from playing between the U.S. Open and Open Championship.

Since it is widely believed that some inducements might be part of a deal to get Woods to play in West Virginia, how bad would it look if he skipped his own tournament and then showed up the next week? So perhaps that is in play here as well.

Regardless, Woods is coming back. This would appear to suggest that he'll be fit for the Open Championship next month and the PGA Championship in August, both at venues where he has won major championships. We can speculate whether he'll earn enough points to qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs and impress U.S. Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson enough to make him an at-large pick for Gleneagles in September.

But first, some small, measured steps are in order as Woods progresses down this comeback road. Expectations should be at a minimum -- most of all his own.

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