Since his stunning Masters win in April, we haven't seen a whole lot of Tiger Woods. The elusive Tiger act has happened for a couple of reasons. Changes to the major championship schedule and Woods' attempt to keep his four-time surgically repaired back healthy have kept Woods out of competition for long stretches.
Woods has played in just four tournaments since the Masters. He missed the cut in the PGA at Bethpage Black in May, finished tied for ninth at the Memorial, tied for 21st in the U.S. Open and missed the cut in the British Open.
He hasn't played since struggling through the British Open a month ago. He's back this week for the Northern Trust Open, the first tournament of the FedEx Cup playoffs at Liberty National in Jersey City.
The question is how much does he have left in the tank this season, and how rusty will he be with so few rounds of competitive golf over the past four months?
He's also committed to the second tournament of the playoffs, the BMW, in two weeks at Medinah Country Club outside Chicago. If he plays well enough to be in the top 30, he'll make the Tour Championship to complete the FedEx Cup playoffs.
Woods has good vibes at Liberty National, finishing second in both 2009 and 2013. He's the biggest draw everywhere he plays and will certainly feel the crowd support from tri-state area fans.
He's out of majors this season, but there's another huge milestone Woods his chasing. His next win would be No. 82, tying him with Sam Snead for the most PGA Tour victories of all time.
"Tiger is special and he is clearly a draw," tournament executive director Julie Tyson told the Daily News. "Tiger finished runner-up in 2009 and 2013, the previous two times the Northern Trust was played at Liberty National, so he sure has a positive history here, and the New York/New Jersey crowds truly love him."
The field will be stacked, naturally. World No. 1 Brooks Koepka, the probable Player of the Year is playing, along with Rory McIlroy and defending FedEx Cup champ Justin Rose. Most of the top 125 players will be at Liberty National.
"You also have competitors like Brooks Koepka, who has dominated this year and storylines like Rory McIlroy winning twice this season. ... One thing is for sure, the playoffs will be exciting. This year's field is shaping up to be the biggest and best yet," Tyson said.
More pressure comes with this year's event, since the playoffs have been cut from four tournaments to three. The top 70 players in FedEx Cup points advance to Medinah.
All eyes will be on Woods to see if he looks like the Tiger who won the green jacket in April or the Tiger who looked overmatched at the British Open.
"This (tri-state) area demands your best. Whether that's in work, in life, in sports or in any aspect," Tyson said. "The people here demand your A-game and that is exactly what the PGA Tour has brought to the area, our very best talent and at the peak of their season."