The drought has been long recorded, the reasons even more. Since Tiger Woods crashed his Escalade on Thanksgiving in 2010, his began crashing down and he has not had a major tournament win.

Late last year, he had his first Tour win in two years in the Chevrolet World Challenge, without golf’s best on the field. It meant a lot, yet little at the same time.

Now, with his apparent heir Rory McIlroy leading the field, Woods finds himself within range at only three strokes back after the first round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. Woods had clear shots throughout the day, although his lackluster putting kept him from taking the lead.

Every time Woods gets close to winning a tournament, or close to missing a cut, the conversation comes roaring back. People, two years later, still can’t decide whether to root for a Woods revival or continue to enjoy his failures.

As another controversial figure is laid to rest in Joe Paterno, one with a much bigger fall than Woods when it seemed impossible anyone could fall further, Woods looks ready to emerge from the ashes.

Without a doubt, the golf world needs Woods, its most popular and controversial player, to continue to be a protagonist. A rivalry between Woods and McIlroy could bring back ratings to a sport desperately in need of them.

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