As week begins, Masters is in Tiger Woods’ shadow

Tiger Woods made news when he won his first Masters in 1997, but now he's a story that eclipses even the tournament. (AJC file photo)

Tiger Woods made big news when he won his first Masters in 1997. But now he's a story that eclipses even the tournament before the first practice round. (AJC file photo)

When the first Masters was held in 1934, it wasn’t called the Masters at all but the Augusta National Invitation Tournament (Augusta NIT?). Bobby Jones believed the name, Masters, proposed by Clifford Roberts, was too presumptuous.

Five years later, Jones got over those concerns and the Masters was born. We came to learn why.

No golf club can equal the combination of Augusta National’s unique beauty and course design. No event can equal the tradition of the Masters. No tournament can match its Sunday drama. And for as much fun as it is to poke at the club’s green-jacketed fossils and their antiquated mindset on most matters, including, but not limited to, membership guidelines, there’s something charming about a major sporting event that charges only a buck for a soda  and a buck-fifty for a sandwich at concession stands.

The Masters prides itself on being bigger than anybody who plays in it, much like the Super Bowl is bigger than any team. It’s possible that by the end of this week, that tradition will continue.

But not right now. These next few days will belong to Tiger Woods.

He holds a news conference Monday. He practices Tuesday and Wednesday. He plays his first round Thursday in over four months. He could be battling to make the cut Friday or possibly hovering near the lead going into the weekend. Nobody can know. We only know it will be news, as will every glare or sneeze or missed putt or made putt or porn-star news conference that happens to be going on simultaneously.

Prepare for all-Woods, all-the-time, and that’s even assuming TMZ doesn’t break some story outside the gates about Woods judging Wednesday night’s “Miss Par 3” beauty contest at the Augusta Hooters. (This isn’t to be confused with the “Miss Green Jacket” pageant on Saturday, presumably only for those “Miss Par 3″ contestants who make the cut.)

Augusta National can control the circus inside the gates. Credentialing, badges, crowd control – that all falls in the club’s private domain. But even they have limitations on focus, and news flow, and certainly wagering habits.

“Right now we’re up about 60 to 65 percent from what we normally would expect at this point,” said Richard Gardner, the sportsbook manager at Bodog, an online betting service. “We already have about 20 prop bets up on Tiger and we may have 20 more by next week.

“All you’re hearing about is the different odds on Tiger. Everything that seems to be happening is a direct reflection on him and the news surrounding him. You can see it in the way people are betting.”

Woods hasn’t played since the Australian Masters (a non-PGA Tour event) in November. But he is an overwhelming 4-1 favorite on Bodog’s board this week. The next closest: Phil Mickelson at 9-1.

Odds aren’t set by reality as much as they are by what people are thinking. Woods consumes our thoughts. From the time he crashed his Escalade into a tree outside of his Florida home in November, he has led the news in all of the wrong outlets — National Enquirer, TMZ, People — as well as the right ones for the same wrong reasons.

Golf Digest sort of went the other way. It cut ties with him, firing him as a $3-million-a-year instructional columnist. I guess this means it’s acceptable for a sports publication to have a $3 million conflict of interest with somebody it covers, as long as that athlete isn’t sleeping with porn stars.

Every day, there seems to be a new bizarre story. Alleged  mistress No. 15 has emerged (Another porn star. Shocking.) Rachel Uchitel, alleged mistress No. 1, reportedly received a $10 million payoff to keep her from telling her story. (Question: If one of 15 mistresses gets $10 million, what would Elin Nordegren get in a divorce settlement?)

Augusta doesn’t have a public sale of  tickets  for tournament rounds. Imagine if it did. What could the club charge this year?

What would the media credential demand be if it was thrown up to every bubble-head with a Webcast, as the NFL does with the Super Bowl?

They don’t want to hear this at Augusta National. But the interest in this year’s Masters is driven by Woods.

He has been golf’s meal ticket for a decade. This week in Augusta, he’s the car wreck we can’t help but watch.

We want to know: Where’s his game? Where’s his head? Where’s Elin?

Will a fan scream something at him? Will he say something back? Will a process server with divorce papers manage to track down Woods during the week and say, “Tiger Woods? You’ve been served”?

Think that would be bigger news than Ernie Els shooting seven-under?

The Masters, one of sports’ premier events, returns this week. But at least until the weekend, it’s on the undercard.

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

Recent posts on Tiger Woods

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74 comments Add your comment

"Chef" Tim Dix

April 2nd, 2010
7:13 pm

first with a double bogey.

"Chef" Tim Dix

April 2nd, 2010
7:15 pm

BTW, El’s is Top 10 in every stat and is my pick to win.

"Chef" Tim Dix

April 2nd, 2010
7:17 pm

Now for the trifecta: Gotta love sports that have a Boo.

Brunswick Tech

April 2nd, 2010
7:24 pm

Molder will win….go tech!

gabeaux

April 2nd, 2010
7:49 pm

Jeff, everytime you and your fellow journalists write about Tiger Woods, you pour fuel on the fire you pretend is overblown.

todd grantham

April 2nd, 2010
8:02 pm

Jeffrey, welcome, welcome back. you were missed.

[...] As week begins, Masters is in Tiger Woods' shadow | Jeff Schultz [...]

GT

April 2nd, 2010
9:59 pm

Tiger is an UNclassy act.

Deborah

April 2nd, 2010
10:19 pm

You are not missed and here’s a good one
Tiger Who
Tiger Rot!
TIGER SUCKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

[...] AP wrote an interesting post today. Here’s a quick excerptWhen the first Masters was held in 1934, it wasn’t called the Masters at all but the Augusta National Invitation Tournament (Augusta NIT?). Bobby Jones. [...]

Gen Neyland

April 2nd, 2010
10:58 pm

If anybody sees a Caddy Escalade with clear plastic sheeting duct taped where windows ought to be cruising around Augusta, wave. It’s Tiger…

NRBQ

April 2nd, 2010
11:12 pm

Welcome back, and condolences, Jeff.

But you (we) know nothing of the National’s “membership guidelines,” except that it’s male-only.

I personally know several members who were accepted in their late thirties – early forties.

So enough with the fossil business.

karma

April 3rd, 2010
12:32 am

How can tiger suck.. He will win it.. He is not a saint in women but when it comes to Golf.. You tell me if you can drive that balll 600 yards and win championship. If u can do that and win it. i will commend you.. Until than keep quiet..

Conyers Golfer

April 3rd, 2010
4:24 am

Jeff: I really like your style of writing about any sport you cover. The college football predictions
are my favorite. As far as Tiger Woods is concerned, I think the least said about his personal life would be the best for all concerned, including Tiger. I realize that you have to write what you do if it is at the direction of your bosses, so I am not being critical of you, just hoping that the tournament will somehow get most of the attention of the media at some point next week.

George

April 3rd, 2010
5:39 am

This will be the media circus of all time. Assuming that the winner is not Tiger, the person who dons the green jacket on Sunday will forever be remembered as the guy who won the Masters the year Tiger returned. I understand the reasoning behind the decision to make his return at the Masters, but it will make the event something never before seen. Let’s hope things get back to normal next year.

Dave

April 3rd, 2010
5:41 am

Jeff, where you from, surely not around here. It not call a “soda,” it’s coke regardless of what brand name it is.

P

April 3rd, 2010
7:05 am

I’m beginning to think that Tiger has really ruined it for himself and has also somewhat permanently hurt golf as well.

I will be at the Masters next weekend but I hope I don’t have to see or hear of Tiger. If he is there and in contention I don’t expect the weekend to be what it should be. The magic of Augusta National will be gone.

Rex

April 3rd, 2010
9:15 am

{And for as much fun as it is to poke at the club’s green-jacketed fossils and their antiquated mindset on most matters, including, but not limited to, membership guidelines,}
why dont you go write for a Left Coast paper, or go up to the NorthEast to work…..we are tired of your LibTard infusion into every story….bashing hunters, fisherman, The Masters and the South in general
Look how few coments you have……most of us only come here to see what that bullet-headed libtard is gonna whine about today

[...] As week begins, Masters is in Tiger Woods' shadow Golf News & Events Add comments Apr 032010 [...]

beach gal

April 3rd, 2010
10:28 am

go tiger! the big mistake was getting married. but you still are the best golfer in the world! so move on and let those without sin cast the first stone!

bubba in fl

April 3rd, 2010
10:50 am

Looks like Tiger is getting a Barry Bonds head. Compare that pic above with a current one.

jim roland

April 3rd, 2010
10:56 am

woods will not win the masters.

Sid

April 3rd, 2010
11:10 am

Seriously, I believe he will struggle, not making the cut. No doubt he still needs proof that he is human.

Sid

April 3rd, 2010
11:12 am

bubba in fl

April 3rd, 2010
10:50 am

Looks like Tiger is getting a Barry Bonds head. Compare that pic above with a current one.
***************************************************************************************

Dang Bubba, you are right, he looks exactly like Jeff Schultz…………

Sid

April 3rd, 2010
11:13 am

beach gal, what number were you……………?

catsFly

April 3rd, 2010
11:14 am

Isn’t a shame that the Masters has been reduced to a backdrop for the media to “fool around” with Tiger’s shenannigans.

TommyJack

April 3rd, 2010
11:21 am

I’m proud of the “antiquated” , old school, ska-roo the rest of the nation, mindset they have at Augusta. Hell, they can even survive being in the only group remaining not covered by PC.,,,white, southern men.
Take you shots hypocrits….We’re still fair game.

Sid

April 3rd, 2010
11:21 am

Augusta National will be here long after Woods is gone. Sure, right now the media hype is working up to ANOTHER frenzy. But little will be said by the Masters commentators about Tigers tryst(s) if anything at all.

Reid Adair

April 3rd, 2010
11:25 am

I can’t wait to see highlights of his press conference on Monday. Think he’ll take any questions about the report he paid $10 million to Rachel Uchitel? Or how about that his kindergarten teacher and principal say his story about being tied to a tree and having a racial slur painted on him is a lie?

I mean, seriously. Now we know the reason (or the 10 million reasons) that Uchitel needed Gloria Allred. Think Uchitel knows the “truth” about what happened?

And his kindergarten teacher? Since he claims she did nothing about it, I think she should sue him if he doesn’t apologize publicly for lying.

Florida Lyrical Man

April 3rd, 2010
11:33 am

Here he comes
Here he comes that Isleworth flirt
Here he comes
To catch Jack
And just because he’s black
Master of his game
But he came up lame
Sponsorships gone
Because he did wrong
Here he comes
With that look in his eye
When a white girl passes by
Teed off his wife
Who needs to club out a new life
You know he’s been hurt
That Isleworth flirt

Steve

April 3rd, 2010
1:13 pm

Jeff, are you going to post your baseball predictions for the upcoming season?

Toledo Carl

April 3rd, 2010
1:18 pm

Enough about Tiger. Let’s get serious about who will win the Masters. It will be the biggest comeback story in the history of golf. DAVID DUVAL !!

Navigator

April 3rd, 2010
1:21 pm

You are talking about the hype of the game not the game. There will be huge crowds following tiger, have in the past, will in the future. The Masters was a great tournament before tiger and will be after him, the problem with the PGA is their perceived need to have the big stars or they couldn’t have a great tournament. Do you honestly think CBS will drop the Masters when tiger retires, that’s ESPN mentality. The ESPN issues are the TV draw, and their bank accounts not the tournament itself.

Paul in RDU

April 3rd, 2010
1:37 pm

Jeff – My predictions on Woods’ press conference next week.
He wears a hat and a shirt with 2 different logos (one of which will be the Nike Swoosh). He wears a Rolex – and makes sure that it is visible for the cameras. He’ll use the phrase “that’s a private matter” at least 5 times, invoke Buddha and/or Buddhism 2 – 3 times and say he regrets how his travails have had a bad effect on his charity and the kids who benefit from it.
His mother will be in Augusta but Elin will be noticeably absent.
Tiger is still trying to control his image and protect his brand (and those of his sponsors). The real fun will begin if he starts getting questions about his Canadian doctor.

hubba hubba

April 3rd, 2010
2:14 pm

ABT Anybody but Tiger. He is a jerk-always has been-always will be.

Jeff Schultz

April 3rd, 2010
6:42 pm

Gabeaux — I never said this story was overblown. As for writing about Tiger, I write on subjects that: 1) Interest me and 1) (tied) interest the majority of my readers. I can provide you with pageview spreadsheets if you like.

Jeff Schultz

April 3rd, 2010
6:42 pm

Todd .. Thanks.

Jeff Schultz

April 3rd, 2010
6:42 pm

Chef — Trifecta.

Jeff Schultz

April 3rd, 2010
6:44 pm

NRBQ — I’ve seen the green-jacketed group. I don’t think fossils is an unfair generalization.

Jeff Schultz

April 3rd, 2010
6:45 pm

Conyers — Thanks for the comments. Actually, my bosses don’t tell me what to write. They’d like to, though.

Jeff Schultz

April 3rd, 2010
6:46 pm

Dave — How about a compromise, like, “Pop”?

Jeff Schultz

April 3rd, 2010
6:47 pm

Steve — won’t be time since I’ll be in Augusta writing golf and Braves open Monday. But here’s mine: Braves make the playoffs as a wild card. Phillies win the World Series.

Jeff Schultz

April 3rd, 2010
6:48 pm

Paul in RDU — The Canadian doctor story is one intriguing angle that needs to be explored, even though he’s denies taking PHDs.

todd grantham

April 3rd, 2010
7:01 pm

Jeff, will you be at the Masters all week?

todd grantham

April 3rd, 2010
7:06 pm

Your blurb describing yourself mentions politcally “I’m right, you’re wrong” has made me ponder a bit. You dont strike me as a right winger so i think its a play on words. Right? :)

Joe Fan

April 3rd, 2010
9:33 pm

What do you think Tiger would do if if there was complete silence when he made a good shot? The best thing to do is ignore him and hope he goes away.

crafty

April 3rd, 2010
10:32 pm

Els or Goosen will win; Tiger will struggle Thursday but gradually settle in for a T12. Unless he’s somehow sharp despite limited practice. Then a top five is possible. But I doubt it. It’s the biggest unknown he’s ever come to the course with. He knew his leg was going to hurt at Torrey. The physical pain he could deal with but the sheer embarrasment of what he’s done could cause some jangled nerves early – and it doesn’t take much to get in a big hole at Augusta. Moving the presser to Monday was wise. He’ll have two days to flush that junk.
I also have to say I’m no longer pulling for him to pass Jack.

Jeff Schultz

April 3rd, 2010
10:33 pm

Todd — going to Masters tomorrow. I’ll be there 8 days. Getting ready to count the Waffle Houses off I-20.

Jeff Schultz

April 3rd, 2010
10:34 pm

Todd– on politics — “I’m right” as in correct. Never said right as in conservative. Also never said left as in liberal. Depends on the day.

Jeff Schultz

April 3rd, 2010
10:35 pm

Joe — I don’t hate the guy. I’m not defending his actions but he’s not a mass murderer.