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Tiger to tee it up with Darren this week

Tiger Woods will make his competitive return this week in the company of long-time friend– to the extent that Tiger has friends– and occasional rival, Darren Clarke. It hasn’t proven a popular decision.

Darren and Tiger: it's like a non-stop 80s buddy movie.
Darren and Tiger: it's like a non-stop 80s buddy movie.
Image: Julien Behal/PA Archive/Press Association Images

FOR FORMER WORLD Number One (and current world number 28) Tiger Woods, returning to competition this week after a lengthy spell on the sidelines carries with it a whole host of worries and discomforts.

Is that left knee capable of holding up against Firestone’s long, rolling layout? How are the fans going to react, now that you’ve dropped Stevie and taken on a guy intimately involved (literally) in your pre-scandal extra-curricular activities? What about the driving, the short game, the putting: is any of it going to feel quite the same?

One thing Tiger won’t have to worry about, however, is who he’s playing with. No awkward banter or passive-aggressive bon mots cloud his horizon.

According to the Golf Channel, who tend to get the good, Tiger-friendly news ahead of schedule, the fourteen-time major champion will spend the first two rounds of this week’s WGC Bridgestone Invitational in the company of his friend, Darren Clarke.

As pleasant and collegial as all that sounds, particularly to Irish ears, the decision has attracted its fair share of public criticism, not least from the Golf Channel’s Jason Sobel, for whom the pairing marks yet another example of the Tour’s willingness to pander to the needs of the greatest player the modern game has ever seen.

“…the PGA Tour should have taken a cue from the folks at Augusta by placing Woods in a pairing that serves no competitive advantage nor disadvantage; one that would be neither socially acceptable nor unacceptable from Tiger himself.

“The way it is now, it appears as if there’s been a wink-wink, nod-nod agreement in place. As a way of basically thanking Woods for returning at one of its premier events, he was offered a cozy pairing that should help his comfortability[sic] level.”

What wouldn’t we have given for a Woods-Scott pairing?

The Golf Channel’s breaking post on the story can be found here>

Read Jason Sobel on the politics of Tiger’s pairing at the Golf Channel website>

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