On Feb. 4, the Herald Sun in Melbourne, Australia, published a story that said Tiger Woods "is poised to make a shock return to competitive golf in a fortnight at the Accenture Match Play Championship in Arizona."
From there, the Misinformation Superhighway took over. Google the words "tiger woods" and "shock return to competitive golf" and more than 15,000 mentions turn up. That doesn't account for those stories and blog posts that might have referenced the story without mentioning "shock return to competitive golf."
The story was not sourced and even acknowledged that "his management has gone to ground with its star client." It seems to have been based only on "strengthening whispers" that he would return at the Match Play Championship.
Woods, you might have guessed, is not playing the Match Play Championship next week; the deadline to enter came and passed on Friday afternoon, 5 p.m. (EST).
It ought to serve as yet another reminder that on the Tiger Woods rumor front, proceed with caution.
UPDATE: The PGA Tour has released the final field and Steve Stricker, by virtue of his No. 2 World Ranking, becomes the fourth overall top seed in the 12-year history of the event. Joining Stricker as the top seeds in their respective brackets are Lee Westwood, Jim Furyk and Martin Kaymer.
Phil Mickelson had previously announced that he would not play in the tournament. With Woods' absence as well, the 65th and 66th-ranked players in the world, Chris Wood and Ross McGowan, gain entry.
-- John Strege