With the ultimate entry deadline at 5 p.m. Friday, this week could again become a golfing Christmas of sorts. Last year, it seemed all sorts of "presents" dropped from the proverbial tree, with several high-powered midweek commitments announced.
One bummer to report: I don't see Dustin Johnson returning this time. The PGA Tour's No. 1 long-distance driver played over the weekend in Germany, which may indicate an extended European vacation. He has played the last four weeks, so you have to expect him to take a breather.
If you want the cynical theory on why Woods played here last year and would not have returned if healthy, go to the Official World Golf Ranking.
Greenbrier owner Jim Justice made it worth Woods' while to come to White Sulphur Springs, for certain, but I think it was all about No. 1. Woods was ranked fourth and was looking for additional points. I won't bore you with ranking minutiae, but missing the cut didn't hurt him.
Today, Woods is No. 1 by a gaping margin so, yes, he's going to rest that elbow. And even if he weren't, he would have played exactly one tournament between the U.S. and British Opens - the AT&T.
Reaching way back to the U.S. Open, I was a bit surprised by some groaning from sports-radio types over the way Merion treated the world's best golfers. Not everybody liked the fact that a 1-over score won.
Memo to those whiners: It's the U.S. Open. One over is supposed to be the winning score. We can get our 18-under birdiefests the rest of the year.
The fact that par beat the field at Merion is most encouraging. Before the tournament, I kept hearing that the Philadelphia-area track was too short to host a major, and how it was going to be sliced and diced.
No dice. Maybe, just maybe, this will help stall the march toward 8,000-yard courses, which the sport really doesn't need.
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130, dougsm...@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.