Jesper Parnevik, Tiger Woods

The U.S. won the Ryder Cup and Tiger Woods was one of America's best cheerleaders. As vice captain, Woods, 40, coached up his younger countrymen, kept himself out of the spotlight and took a celebratory photo with Paulina Gretzky.

But you could see it in his eyes. He still thinks he can beat all these guys.

Jesper Parnevik sure thinks so. The 51-year-old, who was a top rival to Woods in the late 90s and early 00s, is a fellow member of Medalist Golf Club in Hobe Sound, Florida. Woods resides in nearby Jupiter Island and does much of his practicing at Medalist.

"I see Tiger at the Medalist," Parnevik tells Golf Digest. "We talk and have played nine holes together. By the way, he's been hitting a lot of balls, and he's hitting it great. He's pounding it a mile and flushing everything. On the range, at least, his trajectory and ball flight are like the Tiger we knew 15 years ago. Comebacks are never a sure thing, but something tells me his might be spectacular."

Tiger Woods

That's a ringing endorsement from a three-time Ryder Cup rival whose own stardom -- Parnevik spent 38 weeks in the top ten of the Official World Golf Rankings -- was belittled at the height of Woods' dominance. It's also a ringing endorsement from the man who introduced Woods to now-ex-wife Elin Nordegren, former au pair to the Parnevik Family.

"I would be especially sad about it since I'm kind of -- I really feel sorry for Elin -- since me and my wife were at fault for hooking her up with him," Parnevik said in December 2009, shortly after Woods' infidelities became public knowledge. "We probably thought he was a better guy than he is. I would probably need to apologize to her and hope she uses a driver next time instead of the 3-iron."

Almost seven years later, Parnevik's fury has subsided, and he does not want to see Woods clocked by a wood.

"When the infidelity came to light, it felt like the worst betrayal ever," Parnevik told Golf Digest. "But over time, I forgave Tiger. He and Elin are friends, which is nice, and he's a good parent. His mistakes hurt him, too."


According to Woods' website, the 14-time major champion, who has not played competitively since August 2015 after undergoing multiple back surgeries, will make his return Oct. 13-16 at the Safeway Open at Silverado Resort and Spa in Napa, California. This is technically the first tournament of the 2016-17 PGA Tour season.

Woods also says he will play in the Turkish Airlines Open, a Nov. 3-6 European Tour event in Antalya, Turkey, and the Hero World Challenge, a Dec. 1-4 PGA Tour event at Albany in The Bahamas.

If all goes well, Woods is expected to return to major championship play at The Masters in April.

-- Follow Jeffrey Eisenband on Twitter @JeffEisenband.