As comebacks go, it wasn’t exactly auspicious …

At the crack of dawn at Congressional Country Club in Wednesday’s Pro-Am in front of a handful of people, Tiger Woods unceremoniously rinsed his first shot, on the par-3 10th hole …

It was a mixed bag after that ... safe to say this wasn't vintage Tiger Woods.

Not that anyone should be expecting much from him this week … Woods is here after more than three months away in order to get the rust out of his game ahead of the year’s third major, the British Open, at Royal Liverpool in three weeks’ time.

What he needs is to be healthy -- 2007, remember, was the last year Woods played an uninterrupted schedule -- and on that front, Wednesday was a success, as he emerged pain free, even after hitting balls from the lush rough as well as off the uneven lies that brought on back spasms earlier in the season …

What this week does represent, however, is the first step in a journey …

And it’s a journey that’s important to both Woods and to golf.

There’s no question the game misses him.

There’s domination now, but it’s by committee … Bubba Watson at the Masters, Martin Kaymer at both The Players and the US Open and a host of others have had their 15 minutes of fame in between …

But the PGA Tour isn’t going to be sustained by journeymen like Scott Stallings and John Senden

The TV ratings were down by 54 percent at the Players and 46 percent at the US Open … that’s not a reflection on the quality of Kaymer’s play, but on the fact that Woods brings not just greatness to the table, but star power.

Or at least, he used to …

Now, the biggest question in the game is … can he rise again?

As we saw with Spain at the World Cup, crystallized by David Villa, who buried his face in a towel as left the big stage for what he knew would be the last time ... nothing's guaranteed in sports ... one day, it can all just go away.