Tiger Woods at ease and raring to go at World Challenge

Dustin Johnson has played beautifully all year and while his last start 35th at the HSBC Champions event was hardly impressive his form prior was so good that his chances appear too good to ignore. It was his best finish of the season. Except two. And one is back in Tiger's bag this week. So, it was done again.

Woods, who fell to 898th in the world rankings on Monday, missed the cut at the USA and British Opens and the PGA Championship past year. He had to lay down in the passenger seat of his auto to get anywhere.

Tiger Woods will return to action after 16 months. I've seen him on video.

"Progressing nicely", Woods tweeted with the video. Once a staple of the prime Woods era, it had been a long time, 15 months and change, since he had fielded questions ahead of a tournament start. And he took three swings with a wedge on the par-3 10th hole at Congressional during a day to promote the Quicken Loans National.

His stint as a Ryder Cup vice-captain at Hazeltine in September, and all the high-fiving, back-slapping camaraderie that it involved, was an engaging, enjoyable and eye-opening experience for Woods but as a born competitor, there's still nothing quite like the frontline of active golfing service. The marquee field, comprising an elite field of 18 players, is just the stage to set the adrenalin rushing. It would make for a fantastic final chapter: the greatest golfer of his generation, now in his 40′s, going toe-to-toe with a group of young guns who grew up idolizing him, but aren't intimidated by the transcendent player he once was. (NOTE: The "committee" being Tiger.) He's guaranteed 72 holes, as this tournament has no cut.

None of that matters to Ernie Els when Woods returns to competition this week.

This week will offer some clues on where his game and his health are heading into 2017.

Eighteen of the game's leading players will tee it up in Albany, New Providence in the Bahamas where Bubba Watson will attempt to win the title he won by three shots over Patrick Reed last year but with six of the world's top ten in this year's field along with five others inside the top twenty this will be a tightly fought affair.

It was, indeed, cold-water-to-the-face candor coming from Woods, who has spent his entire career with an imaginary wall built around him preventing anyone access into his psyche.

We know things will be different.

"I knew that I could play Safeway with [only] a few shots, and I've played with less and I've won golf tournaments hitting with less shots, but I had to have everything come together", Woods said, adding that he was also unfamiliar with the changes made to Silverado, a course he hadn't played since his days in college at nearby Stanford. They had so many meaningful battles, and Woods nearly always got the better of him.

The 40-year-old American has been sidelined for 15 months due to back-related issues. I care about what I do out there and I want to win.

"The putters sit next to each other at home", Woods said. "To look at other people looking at you like, 'Hey, you're not the same guy, ' that's hard to take". But these two are off limits. "So, yeah, there was a lot of trepidation and times where I thought. was it realistic?", Woods said in his pre-tournament press conference. And then the ultimate is a major championship and then the back nine of a major is a totally different animal.

He hit numerous golf shots confidently and without limitation during a lengthy Sunday practice session; he played a carefree practice round Monday and chatted freely about it afterward.