Until the first weekend of June, Tiger Woods was arguably playing the best golf of his life.
But his dismal performance at the Memorial Tournament showed that he remains capable of a flameout, and raised one of golf's biggest questions: which Tiger will show up at the U.S. Open?
The June 13-16 tournament—the second of the 2013 season's four majors—will be held at the Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Penn. Woods has never played there, but he remains the odds-on favorite to win.
"Tiger Woods is just better than everyone else," said Jay Coffin, editor of GolfChannel.com. "It shouldn't matter where he's playing. He's going to find a way to be better than everyone else for four days."
Before the Memorial, Woods stopped by Merion for a practice round—an unusual move for someone of his stature, according to GolfChannel.com.
Even with his bogey-laden 65th-place finish at the Memorial—his worse showing since 2010—Woods is still arguably having one of the best years of his career, and has reclaimed his spot at the world's number-one golfer.
He's won four tournaments already, including The Players Championship in May. That doesn't include his strong run at the Masters, where he might have added to his majors haul if a rules dispute hadn't cost him two strokes. His torrid spring raised speculation that Woods was poised to win his 15th major and his first since 2010, a span marked by divorce, injury and an overhaul of his swing.
His return to superiority would likely have a profound impact on the sport. When he's doing well, just about everyone does, too. He draws more fans, brings the television networks more money, and saves the PGA from the struggle of looking for its next superstar.
The only people who lose are his competitors, who must go back to chasing him. Again.
Woods' climb back to the top of golf's world rankings could mark the next phase of a legendary career. After dominating the sport for many years, he tumbled spectacularly in 2009, when his his then-wife, Elin Nordegren, learned that he'd been cheating on her. That sparked several more public revelations of affairs. Woods stepped away from the game to regroup, and Nordegren, the mother of his two children, divorced him.
When Woods returned to golf in 2010, he went the entire season without a single win, a first. Woods fell from the No. 1 ranking, ending 281 consecutive weeks there. Injuries and the reconstruction of his swing further weakened his game, and at one point he fell to 58th.
His comeback began in earnest last year, and continued at the start of the current season, when he returned to No. 1 with a win at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March. He also picked up a new girlfriend, Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn.
Now, presumably, just one thing matters to Woods: winning his 15th major.
And there's a good chance the rest of the field will be trying to keep up.