The PGA Tour was once controlled by Tiger Woods and no one else. But Woods returns today to a tour that is a bit more wide open, and has Rory McIlroy as its next great hope. Of course, McIlroy isn't officially in the PGA yet, which reflects how topsy-turvy things are in the world of golf.
No one knows what to expect from Woods when he tees off at the Bridgestone Invitational today. But McIlroy predicted that just making the top 20 would be a "really good effort" from him, according to BBC Sport.
Right now, the PGA Tour could use fireworks between McIlroy and Woods, since they are the two biggest names in golf. After years of trying to hype up a Woods-Phil Mickelson rivalry, McIlroy now looks like the real successor to Tiger's throne following his U.S. Open victory.
When Woods left golf due to injury, the game was still lost without him winning all the time. Now it has at least a few other players to hype up, yet McIlroy probably won't fully arrive until he beats Woods on a few Sundays.
He isn't even a full member of the PGA Tour yet, so that could hurt his efforts to captivate America. However, he also revealed that he was "leaning towards" joining full-time in 2012, according to the Boston Herald.
If he does that, and if Tiger is his old self by then, 2012 will be a special year for golf. Yet Woods first has to get back on top, and the first step is to do well at Bridgestone this weekend - whether doing well means a top 20 finish or not.