Woods making the right call on returning at Masters

Tiger Woods can run from a sex scandal but he's making the right call on returning to golf at the Masters.

Tiger Woods can run from a sex scandal but he's making the right call on returning to golf at the Masters.

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.”

Recent posts on Tiger Woods

Woods’ safest return is on golf’s biggest stage: Masters

Tiger Woods can go in either direction after public humiliation

Woods: ‘I thought I could get away with whatever I wanted’

Over/under on how many times Woods says, ’sorry’: 5 1/2

Tiger Woods trying to control an uncontrollable situation

Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC and on Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC

90 comments Add your comment

Chris

March 16th, 2010
12:04 pm

Fifth by the time I post this. No way was he going to miss the Super Bowl of Golf. The odds of him winning his first competitive event back would be enormous especially considering how hard they’ve made the course now. It would only add to his golfing legend.
The crowds at Augusta are easily the most well behaved because the ‘patron’s are terrified of losing their passes but he’ll never live this down. Fuzzy Zoeller said in the 13 years since he made the racist comment about Tiger winning the Master’s, not a single tournament has gone by where some Bubba from the crowd hasn’t yelled out ‘fried chicken and collared greens’ and it mortifies him to this day.

Dr. Phil

March 16th, 2010
12:04 pm

I wonder what Bobby Jones would say.

That Guy

March 16th, 2010
12:05 pm

washedup

March 16th, 2010
12:06 pm

I just hope Mike Tyson’s racing pigeons don’t conflict with the Masters this year. .that has to be “must see” TV!

ICMIII

March 16th, 2010
12:07 pm

Bobby Jones? He was no saint either.

wxwax

March 16th, 2010
12:09 pm

brave1

March 16th, 2010
12:09 pm

I love Tiger but it makes me feel queezy knowing that he’s hiding behind the Masters wall of protection.

Reid Adair

March 16th, 2010
12:09 pm

Good call on this one, Jeff. This is certainly no surprise. The powers that be at Augusta National will deal with anyone who even considers expressing even remotely negative comments toward Woods.

F-105 Thunderchief

March 16th, 2010
12:10 pm

Man, that blonde in the Stein Mart ad sure does look good. Hope she’s not at Augusta.

That Guy

March 16th, 2010
12:10 pm

Close. I’m looking forward to seeing how he plays. I’m not concernened in the least about his private life. I was well aware before it was public that this guy probably lived an incredible life. Either he had a supermodel wife and mansion, or he had those and any woman in any city that he wanted. I know I wouldn’t pass it up, and I doubt anyone else would have had the will to either. Nobody can say they would because you haven’t experienced the throngs of women that most likely threw themselves at him.

I’m just looking forward to reading about Tiger playing golf and not the field.

washedup

March 16th, 2010
12:11 pm

Whether or not Bobby Jones was a saint has absolutely nothing to do with Eldridge. He got caught, he manned up, now let’s play golf!

eastbound and down

March 16th, 2010
12:13 pm

Wow…I am sure Tiger is more comfortable with his decision now that he has Jeff’s concurrence.

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

March 16th, 2010
12:13 pm

this will be a media circus and a distraction to the other golfers for sure…JS- is this your replacement for Tuesday’s Countdown??

dcfrom Conyers

March 16th, 2010
12:14 pm

The sooner you come back the sooner the healing will progress. Yes you messed up, and have issues. You can get on with your life with your family and fans. Tiger is Great for the game of Golf. Here is my point, I don’t and have never played the game, however I do catch myself watching when Tiger plays. Come back to Augusta it’s is the perfect match for him. Good Luck Tiger

Tiger Woods

March 16th, 2010
12:15 pm

Thank goodness. Now we can get back to watching his every practice swing, every discussion with his nice caddy, every shot, every f-bomb, ect. whether or not he is in contention. I was getting sick of actually watching the leaders and contenders play golf on TV. Now, “all Tiger, all of the time”

The Ghost Of Bobby Jones

March 16th, 2010
12:16 pm

I told you so

Tom Ragsdale

March 16th, 2010
12:24 pm

I will not be watching the Masters if Tiger plays. He is no role model for my grandchildren and I do not have to reward his behavior by welcoming him back. There are a lot more important things in life than winning golf matches.

Csquared

March 16th, 2010
12:25 pm

please, the MASTERS is ALWAYS a media circus, but it’s the best possible situation for Tiger and the sport. Like Jeff says, there’s little possibility of some moron deciding he’s gonna stick it to Tiger while he’s playing (at least not more than ONCE). They take their golf VERY seriously there and despite what everyone wonders about his personal life, it’s his game on the course that most folk will be watching. Wonder how much CBS kicked in for this to happen?

[...] Woods making the right call on returning at Masters | Jeff Schultz [...]

Tiger

March 16th, 2010
12:28 pm

No one thought that my wife or kids were as important as a major did they.

akbar zeb

March 16th, 2010
12:33 pm

Is this a great country. . . or what? Will the movie be in 3D?

Brock

March 16th, 2010
12:38 pm

So when Tiger or “the Cheetah” (as I like to call him) comes back to play at the Master’s will it still be considered a Gentlman’s game?

HugoStiglitz

March 16th, 2010
12:40 pm

This is best for everybody. CBS is going to get huge ratings. The Masters will be an even bigger event then usual. Tiger can get back to playing in a controlled environment. I think we will also see huge support for Tiger from the patrons at Augusta. I think most golf fans want Tiger to come back strong.

Brock

March 16th, 2010
12:41 pm

typo…gentleman..

earl mitchell

March 16th, 2010
12:45 pm

who care, he that is what sin let him cast the first stone

Dave Northman

March 16th, 2010
12:46 pm

One counter-narrative to this viewpoint is that this reinforces the perception that Woods is insincere in contrition and wants only to regain his special status, taking the easy way back.

I believe he is insincere, not because he isn’t sorry that he hurt people’s feelings, but because I think he does consider himself special and only considers it unfortunate that other people don’t accept his status more easily. I could advise him, unrealistically perhaps, that it IS best to assert his special status, admit that he is a flawed human being even so and appeal to the fans of golf to accept him as he is and for Woods to express his need for the adulation without apology.

But that ain’t how the world works.

Cracker Jacket

March 16th, 2010
12:47 pm

DRUG TEST TIGER !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

SNM

March 16th, 2010
12:47 pm

I have never really been a Tiger fan….but I respect how good he is when it comes to playing golf. While I don’t approve or condone his PERSONAL behavior and the way it happened to come out to the public, I really will be glad to see him return. I don’t care what type of athlete you are, amateur or professional, you always want to play against the best because it only brings out the best in how you play and why I am glad he is coming back. I really chastised Tiger in the beginning for his personal actions against his wife and children, but I also have to applaud him for entering rehab to address and treat his sex addiction. I am not perfect, you are not perfect and matter of fact, no one is perfect except God, so we all need to quit judging Tiger and let him be. I also agree the Masters is probably the best tournament for him to come back because the gallery/fans will show more respect at this location since the powers to be at Augusta National will not tolerate it, either by asking them to leave and possibly retract their badges. While I am a Phil fan and won’t root for Tiger to win….I wish him the best as he puts his life back together….Good luck Tiger!!!

SkyWalker

March 16th, 2010
12:48 pm

I think Tiger made the right choice. We all know he wasnt trying to fool anyone. He showed incredible remorse about his infidelity by admitting it and not denying it. Most scandalous people would never confess or admit to anything. Tiger took the high road by bringing the scandal out in front to take the scrutiny since the tabloids were hammering him on the back end. Now if everyone can forgive Tiger, Tiger can go out now and win golfs Grand Slam and tie Jacks Nicolas’ record this year leaving Tiger one major shy of breaking Jacks record. I think most fans want Tiger to come back strong and break the major record so then Tiger can attempt to get back most of his endorsement deals that he has lost.

Jim Warren

March 16th, 2010
12:52 pm

I for one would be thrilled if they simply keep out those idiots who, after EVERY PUTT, yell “GET IN THE HOLE!”.

Brian Asselstine

March 16th, 2010
12:57 pm

When he steps up to the 1st tee he should draw a weapon and blow his brains out. Then I’ll forgive him.

Dawgs2010

March 16th, 2010
1:01 pm

I hope he catches AIDS from one his tramps and dies!

All I'm Saying...

March 16th, 2010
1:04 pm

Best of luck to you Tiger with managing your way around the fairways and greens and the traps and bunkers (almost all of your own creation) off the course.

I still think he should have played at either the Tavistock or Bay Hill to get himself really ready to play at Augusta and to deal with less hospitable galleries but so be it.

[Brian Asselstine: What a dumb a$$ comment. You are an idiot and a discredit to the mediocre career that was your namesake.]

Brian Asselstine

March 16th, 2010
1:08 pm

When he lines up for a short putt Billy Payne should put a cap in his @ss!

Brian Asselstine

March 16th, 2010
1:10 pm

All I’m saying, It was a joke, sh1t pockets.

SallySue

March 16th, 2010
1:11 pm

Tiger will continue to dominate Golfs PGA tour until some Lion comes along and devours him.

All I'm Saying...

March 16th, 2010
1:17 pm

Brian Asselstine: Thanks for letting me know.

Dawgs2010: I hope you are kidding around as well as his kids deserve to have a (hopefully) redeemed dad above ground.

I don’t particularly care if he wins another tournament let alone major. As someone who knows first-hand what the marital breakup can do to the kids, I just hope he gets his act together and becomes a better person and first-rate dad (and husband too is Elin sticks with him — which amazes me, quite frankly, that she has and, I guess, will).

Pepe Frias

March 16th, 2010
1:18 pm

To make amends Tiger should play Augusta with a tennis racket.

Chris

March 16th, 2010
1:24 pm

Skywalker, are you really that naive? ‘The high road’? I have to assume you’re referring to the press conference choreographed by the old KGB Public relations department. The sex addiction clinic was obligatory for his image. I agree with the fellow who posted that none of us normal folks know what it’s like to have beautiful women throw themselves at us relentlessly. Tiger still believes he is ‘better’ than normal folk and the rules don’t apply to him even though he didn’t break any laws.

Cuz

March 16th, 2010
1:24 pm

Those of us who live in Augusta knew he would play here all along. No way was he going to miss it. The price of tickets just went up. Hey Jeff, are you coming to our humble little tournament?

Bookie

March 16th, 2010
1:25 pm

All I know is that he hasn’t had any sex (other than palm) in 4 months so all the tail he see’s at the Master will drive him crazy! The little head will distract the big head and his score will suffer, bet on it.

azcat225

March 16th, 2010
1:26 pm

I really hope this doesn’t bump this week’s Countdown. Tiger’s announcement ranks right up there with “Dog bites man” and “Sun rises in East—again”.

JustaThought

March 16th, 2010
1:28 pm

Prime example……….if the people who are rooting for Tiger can’t take the BS that he’s going to hear from the masses……just imagine what he’s in for. Just like he has his fans that love him, he truly has fans that dispise him. So get ready, cause it will truly be on. And you can believe that there will be at least a 10 sec delay on the tv broadcast.

JustaThought

March 16th, 2010
1:33 pm

I also noticed that the Masters has excluded him from all there tv ads (so far…..), and I bet they’ve been chumping at the bit for him to make this announcement official. Hypcritical BASTARDS……………

Justin

March 16th, 2010
1:33 pm

Tom Ragsdale – No one really cares if you watch or not. GO TIGER!

Blue

March 16th, 2010
1:34 pm

Skywalker…seriously? “He showed incredible remorse about his infidelity by admitting it and not denying it. Most scandalous people would never confess or admit to anything. Tiger took the high road by bringing the scandal out in front to take the scrutiny since the tabloids were hammering him on the back end.” Ummm…let me think here…he had no CHOICE to admit it at the point he ‘admitted’ it. When there are voice recordings of you trying to get out of trouble, you pretty much know it’s time to “admit it”. Also, as to Tiger “bringing the scandal out in front”…I’m pretty sure his wife, the women he was cheating with, and the media were the ones who brought it out in front. I seem to remember a phone call to one of his ho’s with him trying to keep int OUT of the front, no? What a load of crap.

jim

March 16th, 2010
1:53 pm

If Tiger truly wanted to show remorse, he would skip golf for a year. But majors are the most important thing to him even over family. If his wife told him the only way to save marriage was to quit running around with women and skip the Masters, he probably give up chasing women but he would be in Augusta on April 5.

What About Bob

March 16th, 2010
1:57 pm

Tom Ragsdale-

Why are you relying on athletes to be role models for your kids?

Athletes get paid to be the best at what they do – there is zero responsibility to HAVE to be a role model, which is why it’s great to see those athletes that CHOOSE to use their fame to do good things – Warrick Dunn for instance. But they don’t have to be role models, and we shouldn’t force them into that role.

Yes, I will watch Tiger because I like golf and he’s the best in the world. No, he wouldn’t be my first choice to watch after my wife while I’m away on vacation; nor would I ask him to guest lecture a group of students about family values.

DDT

March 16th, 2010
1:57 pm

I’m sure most of the opinions by people that are against Tiger playing at the Masters are the sameones that did not like him before anyway. How much is your opinion about him worth? Nothing!! I look foward to seeing him play again and best of luck to him.

Cuz

March 16th, 2010
2:02 pm

Looks like Tiger is giving up being George Hamilton’s stunt double and will go back to his day job.