Nothing to lampoon about Tiger Woods’ return to golf

Tiger Woods give a little fist pump (low-key celebration) after a birdie on the ninth hole.

Tiger Woods give a little fist pump (low-key celebration) after a birdie on the ninth hole Thursday at the Masters. (Jason Getz/AJC)

AUGUSTA – The great ones can do this. They can suffer personal meltdowns and see their lives morph into manna from Hades for TMZ, then clock in and perform like nothing has happened.

It’s possible Tiger Woods will spend the rest of his life a punch line (sometimes pulled by an airplane). But how many have been his peer when it comes to an ability to compartmentalize?

He returned to golf after five months. Then he shot his best first round ever at the Masters: 68. He had two eagles and three birdies and missed at least three putts that could’ve dropped him to at a tournament-leading 7 under par.

He is on the leaderboard. There’s new headline material. Sort of.

“Am I surprised Tiger Woods is on the leaderboard?” Stewart Cink said, repeating a question. “Is that what it’s come to?”

Some things are out of Woods’ control. The jokes. The choreographed assaults from his former alleged scorned mistresses. The air space over Augusta National, whose surface-to-air missiles were surprisingly non-operational Thursday.

For that matter, there’s no guarantee Woods can even control himself. Too much tabloid evidence to the contrary right now. The guy makes Dionysus look like the Greek god of Monks.

But he can control his golf.

“I didn’t have the luxury of playing events coming into this tournament,” Woods said after his first round of competitive golf since the Australian Masters in November. “Other players did. Even if I did play, I wouldn’t have been ready, anyways, so my practice sessions has to be more intense than usual. It’s been done before. [Ben] Hogan did it after the accident.”

OK, slightly different circumstances. Hogan survived a near-fatal car accident in 1949 that left him with several fractured bones. But he returned to competitive golf after spending two months in the hospital.

Hogan never lost his moral compass. Woods’ problems are self-inflicted, and it’s clear nobody is going to let him forget it for a while.

His tee time was 1:42. The first aerial attack started a few minutes earlier when an airplane pulled a banner reading, “TIGER: DID YOU MEAN BOOTYISM?”

If only he were a Jehovah’s Witness or Falun Gong, he might have been able to avoid being the punch line of a punny one-liner.

The plane was still circling as Woods teed off. It followed him to the first green, then to the second tee, then down the fairway.

Tiger Woods says he didn't notice the banners flying above him, but everybody else did. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

Tiger Woods says he didn't notice the banners flying above him, but everybody else did. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

Eventually, Air Mock disappeared, only to return during his seventh hole, pulling a new message: “SEX ADDICT? YEAH RIGHT. SURE. ME TOO!”

Woods said he didn’t see the plane. When asked of someone going to the trouble to jab him like that, he responded, “It wouldn’t be the first time.”

Otherwise, this was a relatively lampoon-free day. Fans were predictably polite and warm.

As a club member said earlier in the week, “This isn’t Shea Stadium.”

Woods said he was “saying thank you all day.” He tipped his cap to fans before his round and at seemingly every hole.

Former Georgia Tech golfer Matt Kucher, who was in his grouping, said, “It was cool. It was neat having a close seat for Tiger’s welcome back. He had everybody wishing him well.”

As promised, he kept his emotions in check. His celebrations after an eagle on eight and a birdie on nine were relatively low key.

There were frustrations on the back nine. His 10th tee shot bounced off the trees into the rough, leading to a bogey. Then came the putting issues at Amen Corner. A potential birdie putt on 11 rolled past the hole. Another potential birdie putt at 12 rolled over the edge. A potential eagle putt at 13 lipped out. A potential 4 under over three holes turned into 1 under.

When Woods drove his second shot on 14 into the gallery, the cumulative effect led him to drop his club and spin around in disgust. It was the closest he came to a tirade. But after bogeying the 14th, he eagled the 15th after reaching the green in two, then parred the next three.

When asked what he makes of shooting a 68 after five months off, Woods cracked, “I guess I need a longer layoff then.”

Given the backdrop, the humor fell a bit flat. He might just want to let his game speak for himself for a while.

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


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73 comments Add your comment

GTSteve

April 8th, 2010
9:52 pm

Freddie C…….best swing in golf

GTSteve

April 8th, 2010
9:53 pm

BB

April 8th, 2010
9:56 pm

Tiger isn’t the first to have a flawed moral compass. He won’t be the last. Let the man get his life together and report just the golf, PLEASE!

His best first round ever? After a long layoff? Uh-oh? I was betting on Els this year in the office pool. I might have wasted a few bucks there.

Good Luck, TIger. I hope that people can move past any PERSONAL indiscretions that you have to live with and start focusing on the things that made us watch you to begin with-your fantastic ability with a golf club in your hands!

Reid Adair

April 8th, 2010
9:59 pm

I had hoped to watch at least some of the Masters, but with the media’s obession over every single stroke, there’s not a chance.

I did manage to see a clip of his mini-tantrum on 14. So much for a calmer, kinder Tiger Woods on the course, huh?

Now if he would just explain that alleged incident from kindergarten (the one HE made public, not anyone else) that his former teacher and school principal say never happened.

BB

April 8th, 2010
10:14 pm

Red, why do you think Tiger owes you an explanation? I have never thought he owed any of us any explanations. Elin will talk to him (probably with lawyers in tow), his sponsors will talk to him (thru endorsements disappearing) and his children will damned sure talk to him as they age (Why aren’t you and Mommy still married, Daddy?)

I have never bought into the “Tiger owes us an explanation” type hype. The man had sex. A LOT of sex with a LOT of women. It;s HIS life. He doesn’t owe me anything. Why do you think that he does?

ball

April 8th, 2010
10:16 pm

Reid Adair

April 8th, 2010
10:22 pm

BB, where did I say anything about an explanation of his adultery? I didn’t.

I did say he owes an explanation for the alleged incident that HE says occurred when he was in kindergarten. He said the teacher did nothing. Well, the teacher and the school principal say the alleged incident never took place.

Sam

April 8th, 2010
10:24 pm

Really good stuff. Thanks.

BB

April 8th, 2010
10:37 pm

Hmmm, the two people that would have been responsible for supervision and oversight in the alleged incident saythat it never happened. Tiger says it did. Who’s story is correct? I don’t’ know-you don’t either. I think it is irrelevant.

It is a “He said, She said” type thing that happened a long time ago. Would you have expected the teacher to step forward now and admit Tiger’s story as factual? Wouldn’t that be kind of a slap in the face to her career and reputation? Those kinds of things did happen in our past. It is a shameful part of our history.

I don’t know who is right. Frankly, I don’t care. If Tiger’s story is true-shame on the teacher. If Tiger’s story is false, shame on him. However, this has happened to plenty of others. Is their story any less valid?

Tiger plays golf. That is what he does. Let him play it. I live in my own glass house and I don’t’ need to throw stones at another.

Tiger doesn’t owe ME an explantation for anything. I am just wondering why you think you are owed one.

GTFan1

April 8th, 2010
10:54 pm

Pago Pago Trojan

April 8th, 2010
11:17 pm

The world’s greatest golfer/athlete….He’s got the Masters already.

[...] unknown wrote an interesting post today. Here’s a quick excerptAUGUSTA – The great ones can do this. They can suffer personal meltdowns and see their lives morph into manna from Hades for TMZ, then clock in and. [...]

NOT IMPRESSED

April 8th, 2010
11:28 pm

Reid Adair, I agree, it should not be overlooked that Tiger made a serious allegation about a so called incident that was published in Charles Barkeley’s book. These kinds of fabricated stories are what causes racial riots in this country and somebody gets hurt..but as long as Tiger is unscathed then who cares right? If 5 white kids actually tied Tiger up to a tree to write the N word on him then why can’t Tiger name names, why hasn’t someone who grew up in that neighborhood and was there be a witness? Where were the parents, teachers, police? I mean this was to be in California in 1980 or 1981 and Tiger wants me to belive this cr@p, then tell us more liar. Tiger should not be allowed to get away with no one from the press inquiring about this. NIKE and ACCENTURE should not go along with this as well. All this tells me is that Tiger is bitter and angry toward who? Shame on him. And shame on the media for overlooking this as well.

Mr Charlie

April 8th, 2010
11:33 pm

Lanny Simons

April 8th, 2010
11:51 pm

Did anyone really expect Tiger to have a horrible round? Seriously. All these guys have uncanny eye-hand coordination. It’s not like that goes away because things aren’t going their way. And why would anything Tiger would be more nervous today than he was in close Sunday afternoons in the past? For that matter, how about when he was like 12 or 15 or 18 and playing as an amateur? He was probably more nervous then.

Mickelson’s round was at least as “amazing,” no? Or Els. Those guys have some pretty tough stuff going on in their private lives, too.

Wouldn’t it be cool if Watson could stay in contention? I got a kick out of his post-round interview with one of the announcers. Watson kept remarking about how many lucky breaks he got.

Lanny Simons

April 8th, 2010
11:52 pm

Oh, I forgot to say, I would have given 10-1 odds this round would not have been completed.

Lanny Simons

April 8th, 2010
11:53 pm

Because of the rain, that is. I’m east of there, and we got seven hours straight of rain.

Lanny Simons

April 8th, 2010
11:55 pm

west of there…. sorry for so many posts and typos…

JH

April 8th, 2010
11:55 pm

How very sad. In a country where the majority claims to be Christian and a state (Georgia) where an overwhelming majority claims Christianity, so many forget the central message of that religion. Take a good look at yourselves and tell me if you are perfect. How would you stand up to constant criticism for acts that are private. I for one will not be the judge. If you want to claim a Godlike status to be judge and jury for every human fault, good luck with that. I choose forgiveness and anyone who is a follower of Christ would do the same.

not a fan

April 9th, 2010
12:00 am

I’m confused….all the pictures and coverage seems to be about that scumbag, Tiger Woods? I thought Fred Couples was leading actually, but all I’m seeing and reading is the usual fawning over that slimeball.
What’s up with that anyway?

not a fan

April 9th, 2010
12:05 am

I really wish I had thought to do something as witty as the sign that flew over the course today about “bootyism”!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I LOVED it!

Golf Fan

April 9th, 2010
12:15 am

@ Reid:
There’s no proof that the teacher and principle are telling the truth. And why didn’t the teacher speak out back in 2005 when she first heard what Tiger said about the incident? No, the teacher isn’t believable. It’s obviously NOT coincidental that she waited until the Friday before the Masters to hold a pres conference, with no less than Gloria-I-represent-all-sleazy-females-Allred as her counselor.

Lanny Simons

April 9th, 2010
12:19 am

not a fan: was “bootyism” a new joke? I had not heard it before.

I loved it too

April 9th, 2010
12:22 am

not a fan, I wish I had the money to do something that “witty” and I must call you out for using the word “scumbag” to describe Tiger. Most scumbags would never be stupid enough to get caught.

layinlow

April 9th, 2010
5:59 am

Damn, are you obssessed with Tiger Woods? I’m afraid that you may began to stalk him. How about an article on Freddy Couples or Tom Watson? I thought there was more than one player in the Masters this week.

Dick

April 9th, 2010
7:07 am

So once again Tiger is the only golfer on the course according to news media. HOw about ole Freddie, he hasn’t shot that well in how long? The reporting of ole Tigger has me turned off on golf. I realy enjoyed Oct/Nov/Dec.Jan.Feb as he wasn’t in the news every hour about golf, golf golf.

Bill Campbell

April 9th, 2010
7:07 am

Drug test Tiger!

Bobbi Dud

April 9th, 2010
7:10 am

OJ was a great football player! What happened was between him and his family…let him play football again

Kudzu

April 9th, 2010
7:21 am

I am sick of seeing his picture everywhere, and sports news, and cable news, and even the weather channel talk about this guy…There has to be more going on in life besides his tabloid escapades .

Grow up news hounds…give us something better, find another story, this guy is easy…

The guy may have sex with my wife and I am damn mad about it, why do you keep holding him up like some poster child, some victim…

Get his mug off my computer screen…..please.

[...] Tiger Woods shoots best opening round of his Masters career. Story. Column by AJC’s Jeff Schultz. Hole-by-hole. [...]

Clay

April 9th, 2010
7:51 am

Yeah, Jeff, he missed a couple of putts he usually makes, but he had unusually good fortune at least 4 times also. He hit three tee shots screaming for the deep woods that hits trees, then bounced out into the fairway. Lucky. He hit a shot that missed the green by some 15 yards that hit a mound, kicked 90 degrees to the green, stopped on the fringe, then began rolling again up to about 7 feet of the flag. He made the putt for his first eagle. Lucky.

He is great, but surely he won’t keep getting breaks like that all week. But if he straightens out a couple of things, he will be right there Sunday, that’s for sure.

I noticed another thing also. Ole Billy Payne musta told ESPN to show all players on the course, not just Tiger. We (tv viewers) still saw every Tiger swing, but we also saw a lot of coverage of the other leaders, as well as some who weren’t near the lead. Usually, we get Tiger, Tiger, Tiger. Every shot, every practice swing, then a replay of the shot, then his reaction, etc. Hope CBS does the same this weekend.

Dap01

April 9th, 2010
8:05 am

The only thing to lampoon are ESPN and other sport writers who thinks that Tiger is the only man playing golf this weekend.

Why is he still worshipped by sports writers?

Jeff, write about something else!

PM

April 9th, 2010
8:15 am

I said earlier I did not see how he could make the cut but he probably will. I stand corrected. He is an unbelievable golfer.

I thought the ESPN coverage was not too out of whack. There was a little too much Tiger.

Oh gosh a dollar just came out of my computer for writing about Tiger. Now I get it.

Rev Jeremiah Wright

April 9th, 2010
8:16 am

Mr Reid Adair, you quit hating on Tiger Woods. He didn’t drop no F-Bombs yesterday, just a GD. I say GDs all the time, even in church . . .

STX

April 9th, 2010
8:17 am

Tiger will win the Masters again this year hopefully and give a fist pump with a one finger salute to all the haters. Now that would be funny.

Gen Neyland

April 9th, 2010
8:22 am

Change a few lyrics here and there and whaddya get :

Now that ain’t workin’ that’s the way you do it
You play the guitar on the MTV
That ain’t workin’ that’s the way you do it
Money for nothin’ and your chicks for free
Money for nothin’ and chicks for free

Dude

April 9th, 2010
8:22 am

I think Tiger proved yesterday just how good he actually is. Love him or Hate him, you gotta admit he’s good.

Clay

April 9th, 2010
8:23 am

BB, you might feel a little different if, say, your “glass house” was next door to Tiger’s, and he seduced your 20 year old daughter . . .

Sloan

April 9th, 2010
8:25 am

Jeff, are you covering the Masters this week? Or did the AJC send you to Augusta to cover Tiger exclusively? Frankly, the Tiger story is beyond tiresome. He did exactly what I expected him to do. He played well. No surprise there. He’s the most talented golfer of this generation and the golf course is the one place where he can shut everything out related to his life off the course. It would be nice to get an editorial on the greatest golf tournament in the world which is being lead by a 50-year old former champion who just shot the lowest round of his career at Augusta. And there’s also that 60-year old legend who is tied for second with another former champion. Oh well, the height of journalism today is making sure we report on Tiger’s every move since he has turned out to be serial adulterer. Thanks, Jeff.

C Mckinney

April 9th, 2010
8:33 am

The greatest Afician/Asian player ever! Who cares if he has mental and drug problems! He represents golf better than anyone who ever played!!!

Bill

April 9th, 2010
8:42 am

This goes to character or in this case a lack of character.How can a man repeatedly do this to his family?The fact he is a great golfer has no bearing on his character.

This latest revalaton about the 21 year old neighbor,if true would be the worst of all..It would mean Tiger can’t be trusted in his own neighborhood.If true it might be the final straw fo Elin.Never in her worst nighmares could she imagine the humiliation she is enduring.

I wonder if you Tiger apoligst would be feeling if Tiger were doing this while married to your daughter or sister?

I have forgiven Tiger.There is no way I can forget.

Mr. Touchdown

April 9th, 2010
8:51 am

Folks – it’s not who you sleep with, it’s who you wake up with. Remember that before it’s too late.

QOQO

April 9th, 2010
9:02 am

Maybe that 21 year old girl was putting it out and Tiger took it. It must be getting close to the end of the world. I mean really, 21 year old girls out here having sex with both single and married men. Most likely she was like some of those other women he was with, they did not know who he was and that he was married.

QOQO

April 9th, 2010
9:16 am

Clay, I doubt that Tiger really had to wine, dine and send flowers to that 21 year old girl to SEDUCE her. Some people on here must not get out much. Go to any big name rock concert and watch the band members have to work their a$$ off to seduce the young ladies right up next to the stage. All they have to do is point them out and those girls will be lined up, primed and ready at the bus when the band gets done playing.

gdawginkalamazoo

April 9th, 2010
9:42 am

How pathetic was that new NIKE commercial? That was just plain bad using his dead father in that manner. I wonder how many interviews they had to splice together to get the sentences constructed? I don’t think anyone needs to wonder how stupid his PR people are anymore.

Clay

April 9th, 2010
9:47 am

QOQO, so why don’t you just call (or text) Tiger up and offer up your daughter, wife or girlfriend?

ELVISINTHEHOUSE.

April 9th, 2010
9:53 am

Jeff and your point is? What a sorry blog.

[...] Nothing to lampoon about Tiger Woods’ return to golf – Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog)Tiger Woods give a little fist pump (low-key celebration) after a birdie on the ninth hole Thursday at the Masters. (Jason Getz/AJC) AUGUSTA – The great ones can do this. They can suffer personal meltdowns and see their lives morph into manna from [...]

MORAL COMPASS

April 9th, 2010
9:55 am

YOUNG KIDS should just stop taking ATHLETEs AS ROLE MODELs……THEY ARE NOT THE BEST ROLE MODELs..

Geez louise

April 9th, 2010
9:59 am

Sick of the Tiger drama. If he did it to my child I would ask her what the hell her problem was sleeping with a married man and a man she did not love. Dated an athlete and and actor, both instances I watched them literally push off more free sex than the law should allow from these women. The didn’t have to chase because there were enough women begging to do things to them in front of my face. In one instance i was cheated on, in the other I wasn’t. He was wrong. He needs to deal with his wife, not me. Oh well, such is life.

Now can we talk about golf?