OK, so Tiger Woods is coming back. Once again. What does it mean? And is this the last time, if for whatever reason it still doesn't work out?

I was always the biggest Tiger Woods guy. Because he made golf relevant. He gave the casual viewer a reason to pay attention, never a bad thing. There was always a story to write, whether he shot 63 or 73. He was going to surpass Jack Nicklaus as the game's greatest ever. And he never let you down. If he was leading, it was over.

Then he became yesterday's news, in terms of what he brought to the course. Except he remained the focal point in almost every other way. He was bigger than the sport, even in absentia. It wasn't the same without him, despite the fact that Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy and other wannabes on the food chain were doing some Tiger-like stuff.

Problem was, they weren't him. There's a difference. He created quite a gap.

He'll turn 42 in another month. He'll be playing in the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas starting Thursday. It's an 18-man event, with no cut. This will be his first tournament in 10 months. In April, he underwent his fourth back surgery. To go with at least that many procedures on his knee and Achilles.

His other recent returns haven't turned out so well. He hasn't been a factor in forever. He hasn't won a major since 2008, although he did earn his 11th PGA Player of the Year award four years ago, when he hoisted five trophies. And now people are saying he looks to be in good form. He's hitting the ball a long way, which was his trademark. So who knows? Maybe it's just a matter of time until he does something noteworthy.

Which, given the feeding frenzy/hype that anything he does or might do attracts, could be making back-to-back birdies.

Yet even if it's back-to-back bogeys, the world will be monitoring each swing. It's what we do. Because we want it to somehow be the way it was, which of course it probably can't.

He moved the needle, to places it's never been before. Phil Mickelson was the only other guy in his era who came close. But he's five years older, and hasn't won anything since the 2013 British Open. So there's that.

We need Tiger on that wall. We want him on that wall. But it might be too late.

Still, you don't want the enduring picture of him to be that mug shot on Memorial Day when he was arrested in the middle of the night near his Florida home for driving under the influence. He later pleaded guilty to a lesser charge, which allowed him to avoid jail time. Maybe that's all behind him. We're about to find out, once more. For better, or more of the same.

"I've come out on the other side, and I feel fantastic," Woods said earlier this week. "A lot of friends have helped me. I didn't realize how bad my back was. It's hard to imagine I was living that way. I don't have (physical) issues any more …

"I missed playing golf for fun. I didn't realize (how bad it was) because it's been a slow, degrading process. I thought I was playing halfway decent, and I've looked back on it and, man, I didn't even have much at all.

"I'm just looking forward to having a better understanding of where I'm at."

As is the rest of the of the free world. Chances are he can never be that Tiger again. Too much has happened; so much time has passed. But maybe he can contend in a tournament or two over the next whatever.

Or perhaps even win one, which would be the 80th victory of his career and two short of Sam Snead's all-time record. And if he did, how big do you think those headlines would be? Because there's no such thing as too much Tiger. And if he could ever win another major, it would be more seismic than Nicklaus at the 1986 Masters. Which of course seems near-impossible.

There was a time when Tiger's pursuit of Jack's 18 Grand Slam titles was the only chase that mattered. A decade ago, I would have gone all-in on Eldrick. How was I to know life would get in the way? Now I'd just like to see him be a reasonable facsimile of his former self, though even that's probably asking too much. For the better part of two decades, it was his domain. He ruled the landscape. And much of the time it wasn't even a fair fight. Now people get excited if he can play 18 holes without pain and break par. That's the reality.

As fans, we can only hope that's not all there is. In the meantime, follow away. It beats the stuffing out of anything else that golf's silly season has to offer.

It's not as if going down as the second-best golfer in history is the end of the world. Right?