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Ready or not, Tiger Woods is coming back

Granted, Tiger Woods is not Mister Sunshine, but he's going to brighten up pro golf this week the way no other can. He's coming back and no matter how he plays in the Bridgestone WGC event at Firestone against one of the best fields of the year, he's the headliner.

That may not set well with some. He's hard to like if you're behind the ropes in his life, darn near impossible to love. He's tried to connect more with the people after his scandal but on him, it looks like work. It's just not him. He's fire and ice and nothing in between.

But he will turn on a lot of TV sets when he comes back this week from a long layoff brought on by knee and Achilles problems. You may not approve of his off-the-course activities or his on-the-course language but when Tiger's playing, it's hard to take your eyes off him. Look away and you may miss something magical. He has hit more spectacular shots than any golfer in history.

This time, he comes in with a new caddy. When he fired his longtime bagman and friend Steve Williams recently, critics who didn't know the details seized the moment to bash him again. How could he fire Williams after all Williams has done for him? Yeah, Williams has been great, letting Tiger pay him more than most PGA Tour players earn in a career.

I've seen nothing that explained the firing but it makes no sense that Tiger would fire him without good reason. He has parted ways with big name coaches over the years, always with the idea of changing his game for the better. He also fired a caddy several years ago, reportedly because the caddy was revealing too much to the media.

After two years or so of turmoil and failure, Tiger needs a new start. This is just a guess but breaking his ties with Williams may be one of several steps the 14-time major champion is taking toward that. He has retooled his organization in recent months, including a change of coaches. He has devoted a lot of time and effort to healing a chronic knee problem, along with trying to right his emotions after he wrecked his family.

There's no telling how well he will play now. This week won't tell us a lot because he's had little preparation, although he has played Firestone over the years as if he owned it. The PGA Championship the following week in Atlanta may be more revealing.

There's no guessing if or how long his knee will hold up this time. There's no knowing if he can recall the steely mental strength that made him a phenomenon. We'll see. He may never be as good as he was. Probably won't. But don't look away.

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