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Fascination with Tiger Woods puts spotlight on Open

Applications for media credentials at the Open in California this week tripled last year's requests. Indications are that fan attendance will double last year's.

They're not going there to see Keegan Bradley or Jhonattan Vegas or even Ernie Els. They are going there to see Tiger Woods, to see if he has recovered from injury and reclaimed his game, to see how he handles the pressure of yet another comeback in a two-year period in which he has not won.

More than all of that, though, they are going there to see Tiger, to hear Caruso sing, to see Baryshnikov dance, to see Ted Williams at the plate. To see greatness in whatever form it will take, whether it be brought to its knees yet again or come soaring back to the heights it reached before the great golfer fell.

There are some who don't wish Tiger well because of the sexual dalliances that ruined his marriage and broke his family. That will always hang over him.

The manner in which the public has received Woods on those few occasions when he has played in tournaments since his downfall indicates, however, that they are willing to forgive. What's happening at the Frys tournament is a strong indication of that.

Why has Tiger chosen to play the Frys? He needed a tournament to test his readjusted game and to sharpen his competitive edge for the upcoming Presidents Cup matches. He was going to play somewhere.

Cup captain Freddie Couples selected Woods as one of the two players he was allowed to choose to join the other players who played their way onto the team. As with so many things involving Woods, there was criticism of Couples for choosing a player who is now not in the top 50 in the world rankings.

But Couples is not about statistics. He has always played from the heart and his selection of Tiger came from the same place. Tiger's been injured, unable to play his way onto the team, but he earned that place a long time ago.