Tiger's latest slow rebuild comes with a big dilemma this time

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CHIBA, Japan — A journey to the other side of the world for Tiger Woods is yet another reminder of how he leads a different life than the rest of us and that trips such as this one involve far more than playing golf.

Woods arrived in Japan on Friday, ostensibly to get acclimated to a 13-hour time change as well as get in some work at a golf course he had never seen in advance of Monday’s The Challenge: Japan Skins event and this week’s Zozo Championship — his first competitive golf in nine weeks.

But due to the recent typhoon that hit Japan, Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club was closed over the weekend because of wet conditions. All he could do was hit balls Saturday on the driving range with caddie Joe LaCava, who was not even permitted to walk the course to chart yardages and walk off greens.

The only golf Woods got in Sunday was part of a clinic he gave at a Nike-sponsored event in Tokyo — likely part of the reason he decided to sign up for the first PGA Tour event ever in Japan. Mixing business in and around his golf schedule has been part of Woods’ existence since he signed a multimillion-dollar deal with Nike in 1996 before hitting a shot as a pro.

Of course, all of this makes the task of preparing to play tournament golf that much more challenging for Woods, whose well-chronicled back woes hover like humidity, with the added issue of overcoming a fifth knee procedure two months ago.

So expectations should be tempered this week at the Zozo Championship. Woods admitted as much in a brief interview Monday after the event with Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Hideki Matsuyama. Woods looked rusty on his way to earning five skins in the competition won by Day.

“It’s always been that way whenever I’ve had one of these layoffs,” Woods said. “It was nice to get out there and compete. To get back in the flow of things. My range of motion, my strength, is there again. I just have to work my way back and hope I find a feel for the round quickly.”

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