Big step, but Tiger's not back yet

The drought lasted 749 days, 107 weeks and 27 starts.

Tiger Woods is finally a golfing champion once again. His win Sunday at the Chevron World Challenge was his first since the infamous car crash that derailed his personal life.

Some thought the crash would never derail his professional life, but it did. Woods left Hank Haney, fired Steve Williams and, with Sean Foley and Joe LaCava, got back to the winner's circle.

Is Woods back to being the dominant Woods, the 2000s Woods?

It would be very naive to surmise that based on Sunday's victory.

The Chevron World Challenge is not an official event, although it does award world ranking points. The win actually moved Woods up 31 places to No. 21. No matter how crazy it seems for an event of such little magnitude to carry such large weight, Woods is on the cusp of the top 20.

This event can alter the world rankings completely as we know it, the fact is that one can not be declared "out of a slump" with a victory at a tournament that boasts 18 players.

The world rankings weighted this championship heavily, but the real tournaments of the week were half a globe away.

Four players in the Chevron field are ranked in the top 10 on this Monday morning. Three of the top four players in the world were at the Nedbank Challenge in Sun City, South Africa. The missing player from that quartet, Rory McIlroy, won a full-field event in Hong Kong on the European Tour.

Woods' game held up brilliantly against Zach Johnson down the stretch, but that wasn't the same as getting into a dogfight with Luke Donald, Lee Westwood, McIlroy or Martin Kaymer.

The Nedbank is one of the most lucrative events in the sport. The Hong Kong Open was the final full-field tournament on the European Tour schedule. Players were trying to get into the top 60 on the money list so they could get into the field this week at the Dubai World Championship.

That took away from the quality of the Chevron field, thus, took away some from the quality of Woods' victory.

"This is a tough date right before the Race to Dubai," Woods said after his victory Sunday. "I'm ecstatic the field we got. Got a lot of good players here. Generally in the past we've had more international players that play; this year was basically an American kind of field. We'll see. It's all schedule. The Race to Dubai is now part of a new reality for us, and maybe we can work around it somehow."

Without the greatest field in the world, Woods did come out on top and that's important. A first win has to come somewhere and at some time. Woods couldn't control this field, or who would emerge at the top of it. Johnson played decently for a few days, then Tiger blew by him with birdies at the end.

That's why this victory can't be considered anything more than a nice, positive step. You have to test your game in the most pressure-packed of situations. Due respect to Johnson and Sherwood Country Club, but that glorified pro-am won't be confused with the back nine Sunday at Augusta.

Woods won't be back all the way until he wins a major championship. He's based his entire career on those four championships, so until he captures another one of those, then you'll see a different column.

That's an incredibly high and possibly unfair bar to reach, but Woods set it. Remember, the 2009 PGA Tour season saw Woods win six times and he took home the FedExCup for a second time.

Injuries happen. Age catches up to all of us, but Woods was the player he always had been before the car accident. We all knew he'd get back to winning, but this doesn't signify he's all the way back.

You can't be back when your only victory is an unofficial one with 17 of your buddies in the field.


- As explained to me by Doug Ferguson of the AP over twitter, Woods' big jump in the world rankings is based more on his number of events over two years than the field or size. The rankings seemed flawed.

- Luke Donald will go for history Sunday. He can become the first player to win the money title on the PGA Tour and European Tour in the same year. Rory McIlroy is trying to put some heat on him with a win in Hong Kong, but young Mr. McIlroy will need a really high finish to inch past Donald.

- The Geoff Ogilvy/Robert Allenby near fight over their Presidents Cup play seems a tad trivial. Allenby had to be upset at such a bad performance at his home course. Heated words, an offer to go outside over a spilled drink really isn't much, but it passes for serious action in the buttoned-up world of professional golf. That happens at your local bar, everyone's back playing darts in no time.

- Movie moment - Caught "The Descendants" the other day and that Clooney cat has a bright future. It's a great movie alternating between a comedic road trip and a sad tale of a broken family.