The bad news for the other 155 players: Woods has not only won two of his last three starts, he is harnessing his new swing honed by coach Sean Foley. Analysts are impressed - for instance, Golf Channel called attention to Woods' increased stability at the top of his backswing.
He ranks highly on the tour in many statistical categories, such as strokes gained putting (14th), driving distance and accuracy (fifth) and percentage of birdies on par-3 holes (18.79 percent, third).
He and the enhanced field will take on an Old White TPC course that might be more forgiving than it was last year, when the winning score rose from 22-under 258 in 2010 to 10-under 270.
The course was softened by a frog-strangling downpour Tuesday, which came days after the infamous Friday storm. The weekend cleanup prevented any effort to toughen the course, whether on the greens or in the rough. The greens, a full year-plus after their makeover, may be less daunting.
"They were somewhat receptive," Mickelson said Wednesday after his pro-am round. "They're not stopping quickly, but they received shots very well, they putt extremely true. They're really in good shape. The condition of the golf course is incredible."
That in itself has been the story of the week so far, after the Friday storm played "52 Pickup" with the course's trees. With a stunning weekend effort, the 98-year-old track has been pronounced ready to go.
Shoot, ice has been spotted on the grounds and the gasoline lines have eased in Lewisburg and White Sulphur Springs.
"It's pretty spectacular what the people here in the community have done to pitch in and get the course to tournament-ready condition," Mickelson said.
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130, dougsm...@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.