The Farmers Insurance Open is always a wonderful golf tournament to watch every year, as the views from the two courses at Torrey Pines, perched on the bluffs in La Jolla, are spectacular.

Hang gliders soaring off the cliffs, looking like they are just feet from the course, let the rest of the country know how wonderful California is in the winter.

This year, the excitement is at a whole new level.

Tiger is back.

Tiger Woods returns to a PGA Tour event he has won seven times and he also captured the U.S. Open on in 2008.

He is paired with Patrick Reed and Charley Hoffman for the first two rounds, going off No.1 on the South course at 10:40 a.m. on Thursday, and No. 10 on the North Course at 9:30 a.m. on Friday.

There is a buzz throughout the golf world – and amongst non-golf fans as well. There is no shortage of people that will have interest in how Tiger plays who usually have no clue what’s going on in the game.

News outlets, both nationally, as well as locally, will give a mention to the tournament nightly, even if it is no more than mentioning how Tiger fared.

We’ve seen Tiger comeback before, but this just seems different. His swing is different, and he appears more comfortable on the course, both mentally and physically.

Tiger is in a better place and his game last month in the Hero World Challenge where he tied for ninth, looked as good as it has in a long time.

A great indicator as to how this comeback is being viewed is how the Westgate Sports Book in Las Vegas has Tiger at 25-1 to win the tournament. A long shot, sure, but not out of whack at 100-1. In other words, they are hedging just enough as they think there is a chance.

Look, I am a Tiger fan, but not an apologist. The game of golf benefits when Tiger is playing and if he gets back to winning a tournament, it’s a win for everyone associated with the game.

So, what are the realistic hopes for Tiger this weekend?

Can he win? Well, I suppose but I don’t think it’s very likely. I think making the cut and playing four rounds would be a big step in the right direction. Can Tiger get back to a point where he challenges in a Major?

I have no doubt in my mind that could happen, but it will only happen with plenty of tournament experience, so it is imperative to play and play often. Hitting balls on the range or playing the occasional practice round can only take you so far.

By Dennis Miller

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