Woods eyeing winner’s circle at Bridgestone Invitational

Tiger Woods’ return to professional golf has gone about as well as he or anyone else could have hoped, and now he has arguably his best chance to win a tournament since returning to the PGA Tour. Woods is returning to a tournament he has won eight times already, and a ninth victory at the Bridgestone Invitational this weekend would not only be a PGA record, but it would also represent the final hurdle in Woods’ return to championship form.

Woods has appeared in a dozen tournaments in 2018, including the Masters, the U.S. Open, and the British Open, looking more and more like himself with each weekend. He missed the cut at the U.S. Open, but his performance at the British Open was impressive to say the least, keeping pace at the top of the leaderboard and finishing in a tie for sixth. That high placement was enough to grant Woods a spot at Bridgestone, which was the site of his last PGA Tour victory back in 2013.

Firestone, the host course for the Bridgestone, is one of Woods’ best courses. The only other places where he has won eight times are Torrey Pines and Bay Hill. That comfort level combined with his recent level of play makes Woods one of the top picks to win this weekend, alongside Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, who have both made claim to the “best golfer in the world” handle while Woods was sidelined. Winning a tournament would be the next step in Woods’ journey to once again challenge for that distinction after undergoing four major surgeries on his back since 2014.

Woods is aiming to participate in five of the next six PGA events, which would mark his most active stretch since returning to the tour. He is also being considered for inclusion on America’s Ryder Cup team, and his selection would seem to be a lock if he can win a tournament. But regardless of what happens over the next couple months, nothing is a clearer sign of Woods’ return to the heights of golf stardom than reports of a marquee showdown between him and Phil Mickelson in Las Vegas over Thanksgiving weekend. It’s the kind of golf media stunt that only works with a star as big as Woods, especially when people think he can win.