tampabay.com

Tiger's back - let season begin

Woods makes his 2007 debut at a tournament he has won the past two years.

By BOB HARIG
Published January 25, 2007


FedEx Cup points are being compiled, money accumulated. Three PGA Tour events are already in the books, with an old standby and two surprise victors.

So while the calendar doesn't say the season begins today, we all know better. Tiger Woods is back, and can golf really begin without him?

Woods makes his 2007 debut at the Buick Invitational near San Diego, a tournament he has won the past two years and four times overall. Oh, he also takes a six-tournament tour winning streak into the event and has captured four of the past eight major championships.

"I'm really excited to get going again, to get into the competition," Woods said Wednesday at a news conference at Torrey Pines. "I missed it."

Wonder if the other players missed him?

Vijay Singh won the season-opening Mercedes Championship, then journeyman Paul Goydos followed with a victory at the Sony Open before second-year player Charley Hoffman won the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic last week.

Woods has not played on the PGA Tour since winning the American Express Championship on Oct. 1. The last time he did not win was when he finished second to Trevor Immelman at the Western Open in July.

He then rattled off victories at the British Open, Buick Open, PGA Championship, Bridgestone Invitational, Deutsche Bank Championship and American Express.

There was a first-round loss in the World Match Play Championship and second-place finishes at tournaments in China and Japan. But those are not PGA Tour events, so the streak remains.

A victory at the Buick will give him the second-longest streak in history, surpassed only by the 11 in a row won by Byron Nelson in 1945.

"It's a PGA Tour streak, not really a win streak," said Woods, who acknowledged coming up short at the Match Play, Ryder Cup, in China and Japan. "I'm looking forward to this year and getting off to a good start. This is one of my favorite golf courses on the tour."

Bob Harig can be reached at 727 893-8806 or harig@sptimes.com