With Tiger Woods having turned 41 on Friday, it's a good time to think about his upcoming year.
Will he win a tournament when he returns to the PGA Tour in 2017? What would make for a successful season?
Our panel sifts through those questions and more.
1. Fact or fiction: Woods will win a PGA Tour event in the coming year.
ESPN SportsCenter anchor Jonathan Coachman: Fact. He showed me enough in the Bahamas. His big numbers were due to fatigue and just not playing enough holes. He had all of the shots, and his back looks to be healthy. As hard as it is to win on tour, no one knows how to do it better. If he plays often early in the year without international travel, I think he could become a favorite at Augusta. And who would be surprised if he was in contention at any tournament? Not me.
ESPN.com senior golf writer Michael Collins: Fiction. It's great what we saw from Tiger in the Bahamas in early December, but it is still not even close to what he's going to experience at a full-field event on mainland U.S. soil. He'll contend by the end of the season, but a win is a huge ask.
ESPN.com senior golf writer Bob Harig: Fiction. Despite the progress he showed at the Hero World Challenge, this remains a big ask. There is so much for Woods to work through. He might miss some cuts and shoot some high scores. He needs to get used to playing and competing again. It is very likely he will contend, maybe a few times, but a victory seems out of reach for now.
ESPN.com senior golf editor Kevin Maguire: Fiction. He still has the skill set to win on the PGA Tour, and I do believe he will win again. But he has to overcome more than just his bad back. Switching to new clubs (at least some of them), as well as a new golf ball, will be a considerable challenge, health issues aside.
ESPN.com senior golf writer Jason Sobel: Oh, man. Talk about your no-win question. If you say fact, you're viewing Woods' 15th-place finish at the 17-man Hero World Challenge through rose-colored glasses (maybe wine glasses, some would contend). If you say fiction, you're a hater who thinks he can't come back. Sorry, but I'm neither. Instead, I see 2017 as very similar to the last major return he made (though under much different circumstances) back in 2011. After a brutal 2010 campaign following his personal scandal, he had a little of everything that year, from a T-4 major finish (at the Masters), to an injury withdrawal (at the Players) and subsequent layoff, to a victory (at the HWC) in his last start of the year. It was a mixed bag but one that ultimately held optimism, which I think will be the case this coming year.
2. Would you take the over or under on 15 Woods PGA Tour starts in 2017?
Coachman: Over. He waited this long to come back to be 100 percent healthy. There can't be an easing back into it. He needs to play a full schedule, which for him has always meant 17 or 18 events. I can see him doing that this year. I foresee five starts before the Masters.
Collins: Under. American Tiger Woods fans should be over-the-moon happy if we see him play 10 PGA Tour events (I'm not counting the Open, which would make 11) in 2017. If he's building for Phase 2 of his career, he should be working toward 12-15 events, which he won't need in Year 1.
Harig: Under. Much of this depends on if Woods plays well enough to not only make the FedEx Cup playoffs but also make a run in them. I see him playing 11 PGA Tour events through the PGA Championship, including tournaments such as Riviera, Honda, Bay Hill, The Masters, Players, Memorial, U.S. Open, Quicken Loans, The Open and PGA. Torrey Pines would be 11, and perhaps he'll add something somewhere else, but he'd need all the playoff events to surpass 15.
Maguire: Under. Only twice in the past six years has Woods teed it up more than 15 times on the PGA Tour, so the odds don't favor more starts. At this stage of his career, I don't suspect he'll decrease his starts (health notwithstanding), but there are just too many questions about his back to think he'll play that often.
Sobel: Under. I think we're going to see a wiser Tiger Woods now. He understands his past injuries, understands his limitations and understands that he can't push it to previous extremes. Woods would like to continue playing a full schedule for the next decade, but the first step in that process is to not overdo it right away. I don't think his total will be much under 15 -- maybe just a tourney or two fewer -- but I really can't see him hitting the over.
3. What is more likely for Woods in 2017 majors: top-10 finishes or missed cuts?
Coachman: Major missed cuts. I hope that I am wrong, but the venues for major championships are grueling. And we just don't know how good of shape he will get into. I don't know that I believe that he will miss any cuts, but I am not high on top-10s this year, either.
Collins: If it weren't Tiger Woods we are talking about, that would be a silly question. But because of whom we're talking about, it isn't. That said, it's all but impossible for me to visualize Tiger getting top-10s at majors this year.
Harig: It's possible we see a combination of both. Woods will be determined at the majors. If his health and game are in shape, he can certainly contend or finish high, especially at Augusta and Royal Birkdale, where The Open will be played. U.S. Open site Erin Hills is an unknown to him, while Quail Hollow for the PGA Championship is a place where he has won, but it will be much different for a major.
Maguire: Grudgingly, I'll go with missed cuts, though I hope I'm wrong. Even when Tiger has played majors the past few years, he has rarely contended for titles. Even a back-door top-10 finish seems unlikely. While many point to his 24 birdies at the Hero World Challenge in December, he finished well off the pace on a setup that was custom-tailored to his game, which won't be the case at the majors.
Sobel: Woods knows what really matters to him at this point in his career, and that's the four majors. Expect him to build his season around those tournaments and prep for them with greater importance. None of that should be considered news, but it would be surprising if a healthy Tiger can't navigate Augusta National or Royal Birkdale without some modicum of success.
4. What would you consider a successful 2017 for Woods?
Coachman: For me, making it to the Tour Championship would be one helluva year for Tiger. That would mean he would have had to win or have a bunch of good finishes. But also throw in no withdrawals, either. As fans, we want to get to the point that we don't question how many holes he can play. I know what Tiger would say to this question, and I want to believe that he is special all the way around, including competing with the tour's best.
Collins: He plays 10-12 PGA Tour events with no WDs and finishes the year making the PGA Tour playoffs. Then he shows up at the 2017 Hero World Challenge and actually wins the event because he's still healthy and poised for an amazing 2018.
Harig: Staying healthy, being able to properly prepare for all of the tournaments he plans to play and no injury setbacks. If he is able to do that, results will eventually follow, which means perhaps he will contend in several tournaments or maybe even win. But so much of the latter is based on the former.
Maguire: Challenging for a victory, even if he doesn't get one. A win is probably too much to ask for at this point, but to legitimately be in the hunt on Sunday of a tournament -- any tournament -- would serve Woods well.
Sobel: Winning the Grand Slam! I mean, that would be successful, right? OK, I'll dial it back a bit. The first key to success is remaining healthy and upright for the next nine months. If he feels better physically at the end of September than he does right now, that's a success. Other than that, let's see him hit the ball well, contend a few times and generally just play solid golf while getting himself back into the mix. Of course, ask him this question, and he likely wouldn't consider it a success without at least a few more Ws on his résumé.