Tiger is back. Hopefully with a more healthy back. We will get to see the 14 time major champion for the first time in months on December 3rd when he hosts the 2014 Hero World Challenge at his home course of Isleworth Golf and Country Club in Windermere, Florida. With this being Tiger Woods first appearance in months many are wanting predictions as to how he will play. Well, here goes…

Tiger will come back rusty. Having watched Tiger come back from multiple injuries I can say that he is not going to be on top of his game in his first tournament back. Fortunately, this is a tournament that does not have a cut as there are only 18 players in the field. The field is as follows (Official World Golf Ranking):

Henrik Stenson (4), Sweden
Jim Furyk (5), USA
Justin Rose (6), England
Bubba Watson (7), USA
Jason Day (8), Australia
Matt Kuchar (9), USA
Rickie Fowler (10), USA
Jordan Spieth (13), USA
Billy Horschel (14), USA
Tiger Woods (15), USA
Zach Johnson (16), USA
Graeme McDowell (18), Northern Ireland
Jimmy Walker (19), USA
Hideki Matsuyama (20), Japan
Hunter Mahan (21), USA
Chris Kirk (22), USA
Steve Stricker (25), USA
Keegan Bradley (26), USA

Since the PGA Championship and FedEx Cup Playoffs Bubba Watson and Henrik Stenson have both won tournaments. Interestingly, Billy Horschel has played terrible since winning the FedEx Cup.

If I had to make a prediction on who will win this tournament I would think Rickie Fowler and Bubba Watson would have to be the favorites. Rickie has played more Florida golf than anyone and Bubba loves conditions in which he can hit the ball with creativity. We know Bubba struggles at the Open Championship in Europe but that is a completely different style of golf than will be played at Isleworth. With this being the case, I do not like Graeme McDowell on this course.

Tiger has played this course thousands of times over the last several years so he knows his way around the track. That said, those were not in tournament conditions. I think it will be very fun to watch Tiger actually play his home course. Who wants to guess that he will be paired up with Steve Stricker in at least one round during this tournament? I think Tiger will be able to stay around even par just because he knows the course but I honestly cannot see him contending for the tournament. This is his first tournament with new coach Chris Como and he has not played competitive golf in quite some time. I hope I am wrong, but I don’t think it is going to be in the top 5.

It is important to note that this is the first time the tournament is not at Sherwood Country Club in several years. When Tiger lost to Graeme McDowell a few years back that tournament was played at Sherwood. This means you cannot look at past champions as favorites as it is a completely different course and a much different setup. One of the best highlights of the time at Sherwood was the Bubba Watson double eagle albatross.