Tiger Woods will reportedly make his return at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational on Aug. 4, at least if all goes according to plan. Woods has been relatively quiet since putting down his clubs in an effort to let his injured knee and Achilles rest, though much has changed since the last time he swung a club competitively. His former caddy and long-time friend Steve Williams is gone, unceremoniously relieved of his duties during Woods' break from golf. In his place, Woods' childhood friend Bryon Bell will reportedly hop on the bag, at least in a temporary role.
Woods' choice of Bell is telling for many reasons, and few of them are good. While it's true Bell has caddied for Woods before, this has the makings of a public relations disaster. And it's also a sign of how far withdrawn Woods is at the moment. His inner-circle has shrunk so far, he's relying on a loyal yes-man to handle his affairs on the course.
Bell, however, is no stranger to handling Woods' affairs. When word of Woods' scandal broke around Thanksgiving 2009, it was Bell's name that surfaced. He was called a middle-man in the disaster that enveloped Woods' life, with mistresses mentioning Bell as the man who arranged meetings, flights and accommodations.
Williams was the caddy who wasn't afraid to say no. He was assertive, both when handling Woods and the throngs of fans who followed him. And all along he maintained he knew nothing about Woods' extra-marital affairs. Bell, on the other hand, is the anti-Williams.
The choice of Bell seems to indicate Woods has few people left in his corner, especially in the golfing world. But one has to question how wise it is to take one of the main players in the scandal that flipped his world upside-down and put him back into the spotlight, on the bag at his incredibly high-profile return to golf.