It’s no guarantee that Tiger Woods will be able to repair his public image or return to dominance in professional golf. But he just made one right decision.
Woods announced what had been expected for the past several days — that he will make his return to golf at the Masters April 8-11 at Augusta National.
So arguably sports’ highest-profile figure will make his return at golf’s highest-profile event: Nothing like a flair for the dramatic. But that’s Woods, isn’t it?
The timing makes perfect sense. As I wrote in Sunday’s AJC, the Masters is one of the most controlled events in sports because it is held in a private club. As strange as it sounds given the stature of the Masters, it’s far more logical for Woods to return there than, say, at the John Deere Classic in Illinois.
Augusta National has a tight control on media credentials and tournament badges. That means no media representatives from TMZ or the National Enquirer will be allowed (presumably), and no taunts from loud and obnoxious fans in the galleries will be tolerated, at least none who want to keep their passes.
Woods last played Nov. 15 in Melbourne, Australia. Ironically, he won a tournament called the Australian Masters. It was two weeks later at his home at the Isleworth country club in Orlando when he crashed his Cadillac SUV into a fire hydrant and then a tree outside his home following a reported argument with his wife, Elin Nordegren.
A sex scandal broke shortly thereafter, with reports of at least 14 women having extramarital affairs with Woods. He has since made only one public appearance with a nationally televised statement Feb. 19, during which he admitted transgressions and said he is working on his personal life.
Here’s Woods’ statement in full from TigerWoods.com:
“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.
“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 awhile since I last played.
“I have undergone almost two months of inpatient therapy, and I am continuing my treatment. Although I’m returning to competition, I still have a lot of work to do in my personal life.
“When I finally got into a position to think about competitive golf again, it became apparent to me that the Masters would be the earliest I could play. I called both Joe Lewis and Arnold Palmer and expressed my regrets for not attending the Tavistock Cup and the Arnold Palmer Invitational. I again want to thank them both for their support and their understanding. Those are fantastic tournaments, and I look forward to competing in them again.
“I would also like to thank the Augusta National members and staff for their support. I have deep appreciation for everything that they do to create a wonderful event for the benefit of the game.”
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