Tiger and Rocco at Torrey Pines?

It was a magical formula in the 2008 U.S. Open as Tiger Woods withstood a broken leg, torn ACL and affable journeyman Rocco Mediate in a 19-hole Monday playoff that some consider golf's finest moment.

So why not do it 19 months later in the Farmers Insurance Open? At high noon Thursday, Woods, Mediate and Southern Californian Anthony Kim tee off in a made-for-TV threesome as Woods kicks off his 2011 season.

"I don't know how that computer did that," Woods said of his playing partners, supposedly drawn at random. "Kind of a surprise isn't it?"

Who could blame the PGA Tour for rigging the pairings? The first three events of the season have brought little buzz or star power as the illustrious trio of Jonathan Byrd, Mark Wilson and Jhonattan Vegas have prevailed.

Combine that with a recent Sports Business Journal report that golf ratings experienced a sharp decline in 2010, and it is clear that the tour is banking on a Woods comeback after his winless 2010.

"[The ratings] were primarily affected by three things. In the first part of the year, the Olympics had an all-time record year," PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said. "Tiger out for a big chunk of the first part of the year and then not playing at his normal level had an effect. Late in the year, the NFL record ratings impacted us, so it's kind of a perfect [storm]."

On Thursday and this weekend, Finchem hopes for a perfect storm of another kind -- the snowed-in east, no NFL, golf in sunny San Diego and the best-case scenario: Woods ending his victory drought.