Golfer Tiger Woods has announced that he will be playing next week's Masters tournament at Augusta National in Georgia. But, will it be a return to success for the former star after a string of disappointing play?
The big question now is not whether the 39-year-old Woods can win, but whether he can manage to finish 72 holes without re-injuring himself.
Woods has won the Green Jacket at Augusta 4 times, putting him in a tie with Arnold Palmer. The record for wins is six and belongs to Jack Nicklaus. Nicklaus also holds the career record for most majors with 18.
At Augusta this year, Tiger will resume his quest to win another major that would bring him closer to catching up to Nicklaus. His last major victory was at the 2008 US Open. Woods needs five more to pull ahead Nicklaus.
The task will not be easy. The former number one golfer in the world has so far had the worst year of his career and has sunk to 104th in the global rankings.
Woods has only played 47 tournament holes this year. In 10 PGA events since January of last year, he has withdrawn three times, missed three cuts and completed 72 holes only three times.
He is not only battling injuries and another swing change as he strives to return to the majors' winner circle, but he is also in a showdown with the clock. Even if Woods were still at the top of his game, his chances of winning five more majors and overtaking Nicklaus are waning every year.
Battling father time
As Woods himself has put it: No one beats Father Time.
According to the records, only 18 of the past 200 majors have been won by players in their 40s.
Nicklaus clinched his 16th and 17th majors at the age of 40 and won his 18th at 46.
The only other player to win multiple majors in his 40s was Mark O'Meara who won twice at the age of 41.
The Masters is an ideal tournament for Tiger to resume a quest for titles that might allow him to overtake Nicklaus's record. Tiger and Augusta National are old friends, and he knows how to win on the course.
His first victory there came in 1997, where his final score was 18 under - a record that still stands. He went on to win back to back victories in 2001 and 2002 and again in 2005.
In spite of his injuries and personal problems that have detracted from his game, the celebrity golfer is still a crowd favorite. He remains the man who single handedly revitalized the game with his passion along with his aggressive and almost other worldly style of play.
Fans are hoping to see him back at the top of his game next week in Georgia.
av/gsw (AP, Reuters, AFP)