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Embattled golfer Tiger Woods has announced that he will make his long-awaited return to the pros at the Masters Tournament at Augusta from April 8-11.
“The Masters is where I won my first major and I view this tournament with great respect. After a long and necessary time away from the game, I feel like I’m ready to start my season at Augusta,” Woods said in a statement.
“The major championships have always been a special focus in my career and, as a professional, I think Augusta is where I need to be, even though it’s been a while since I last played.”
Instead of opting to tune up at smaller events, like the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Tiger, a four-time champion at the Masters, is electing to jump in the fire right away. Since the 1940′s, only one person made the Masters his first event of the year, and won it: Ben Hogan in 1951 and 1953.
Tiger couldn’t have scripted it better: his return after a 144-day layoff will be at the Masters, a tournament that put his name on the map in 1997, and at a course he has dominated during his career (at Augusta Hills). The headlines leading up to the event will definitely be dramatic, but apparently he’s ready for the spotlight once again.
It also shows his supposed “humility.” Let’s face it, there’s a chance Tiger misses the cut and won’t be playing on Saturday or Sunday. It’s been a long layoff and there’s a lot going through his head. The Masters, itself, features the best golfers in the world, and the level of competition is extremely high. I can hear his press conference now: A missed cut for Tiger would be “humbling,” which is exactly what he and his PR team may want. In the past, Tiger was viewed as invincible and above it all, and he thought that himself. A missed cut would give him the chance to seem human, and it may make new PR sidekick Ari Fleischer (President Bush’s former press secretary) a genius.
If Tiger makes the cut and is playing on the weekend, I think that’s good too. It shows that Tiger can still hang with the big boys, and his days as the world’s best golfer are far from over. Best case scenario? He wins the whole tournament. Worst case scenario? He misses the cut, but is still viewed as a human and let off the hook for his down performance.