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Making cut would be big for Tiger

Tiger Woods returns to the PGA Tour after a two-month break at this week's Waste Management Phoenix Open, his first time at the event since 2001.

So what can we expect from the former world No. 1 when he tees it up at the self-proclaimed "Greatest Show On Grass" at TPC Scottsdale during Super Bowl week?

Our scribes dive into those topics and more in the latest edition of Four-Ball.

1. How much importance do you place on Tiger's finish this week in Phoenix?

"SportsCenter" anchor Jonathan Coachman: There are a lot of distractions this week in Phoenix. I don't put too much into Tiger's finish because he has played once since August. Everyone else is six or seven events into this season. I just expect Tiger to shake the rust off and show the world that by February, he will be hitting on all cylinders and his game is exactly where he always wants it to be -- ready to win.

ESPN.com senior golf analyst Michael Collins: Very little. There's been so much time between the last time we saw Tiger at the Hero World Challenge finishing in last place and this week in Phoenix. His finish won't matter as much as getting through the week pain-free knowing where he's lacking in full-field tournament play.

ESPN.com senior golf writer Bob Harig: Not much. You have to keep this all in perspective, which is always difficult to do with Tiger. This will be just his second tournament since August and he spent at least two months of that time not playing golf. And another seven weeks have passed since his last competitive shot at the Hero World Challenge. Any kind of a solid finish should be viewed as a positive.

ESPN.com senior golf editor Kevin Maguire: It's not so much his finish as his short game that I'll be watching this week. His chipping performance at Isleworth in the Hero World Challenge was inarguably the worst we've ever seen from the former world No. 1. We'll get to witness just how much time he's put in for the area of his game that clearly needed the most work.

2. What would you consider a successful week for Woods at TPC Scottsdale?

Coachman: I really hate to say this, but if Tiger makes the cut this week, I would consider that a success. This tournament always has winners that go low, so Tiger will have to be under par after Friday in order to make the cut. I know Woods would completely disagree with me, but coming off a 2014 that saw him make under $200K, I have to see a high finish before I can put expectations back up there.

Collins: If Tiger makes the cut, it'll be a success. That will give him four days to work on his swing and game in tournament conditions. Next week at Torrey Pines in the Farmers Insurance Open is where the expectations will be sky high, but only if he makes it to this weekend.

Harig: Making the cut, and then shooting a couple of sub-70 scores on the weekend. That would be progress, something to build on.

Maguire: A top-25 finish would be a solid accomplishment, considering that he's barely played any competitive golf in nearly six months. Add in the fact that he hasn't teed it up at this venue in more than a decade, and that just makes things more difficult. Most courses Woods plays are venues he's gone to for years, so although he and caddie Joe LaCava are old pros at this, there's something to be said for playing a track under tournament conditions year after year.

3. Will Tiger be better off acknowledging the crowd at the rowdy 16th or ignoring them?

Coachman: Tiger needs to understand that for the next 10 years of his career, he should embrace the fans and cannot stay in his zone. The fans are starving for him to play well, while at the same time allowing them to be a part of what Tiger hopes is an emotional return to the top. Tiger's biggest criticism is being unavailable to fans. It's understandable because he is such a big star, but there is a reason Phil Mickelson is beloved. It would be so easy for Tiger to flip the script.

Collins: As many times as we've seen the hole-in-one highlights where he "raised the roof," if he tries to ignore the crowd, the heckling Friday and Saturday will be brutal. By acknowledging the crowd, he'll give them the feeling that they're a part of his experience. That will mean the lovers will not allow the haters to win.

Harig: Acknowledging the crowd is a must. Getting them on your side can only help, defying them can only hurt. He might as well enjoy the moment and if he does, he'll be as popular as any player in the field.

Maguire: Imagine the reaction if Tiger totally broke character and started tossing those ski masks he was wearing in Italy into the crowd? The social media buzz just might break Twitter. That being said, I fully expect him to acknowledge the crowd, yet not do anything that would break the PGA Tour's new rules put in place this year.

4. What would you throw to fans at TPC Scottsdale's raucous 16th hole?

Coachman: I would throw anything that would help my brand. Like Bubba Watson did with Oakley glasses, I would give out "coach" key rings or "coach" hats. Fans love anything free and what better thing than having your name running around the country on people's heads on tour or just in Phoenix. But the giveaway should make sense.

Collins: I'd throw a bunch of those disposable cameras into the stands. That way everyone could take pics yet players wouldn't be bothered by the noise because it's a low murmur anyway. The tour would be mad in the short term, but in the long run all the social media love would make everyone happy.

Harig: $100 bills. And then I'd expense it.

Maguire: Ever see those hot dog launchers used at basketball, hockey and baseball games? Given the amount of alcohol that will surely be imbibed at that stadium hole, a little food might be just what the fans need. And heck, it's one less trip they'll have to make out of the stands without worrying if they'll lose their seats.