He’s embarrassed, sure, and it seems he’s contrite. But he’s also the world’s best golfer, and if you’re the world’s best golfer the one thing that overrides embarrassment and contrition is a major championship. And they hold one of those every April in this state.
Jack Nicklaus, who won 18 majors and therefore has a keen sense of their worth, said it Wednesday: Tiger Woods will be back when it’s tee time in Augusta. “It would surprise me if he didn’t [play the Masters],” Nicklaus told reporters in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., according to Bob Harig of ESPN.
Then, even more on point: “I can’t imagine in a hundred years he is going to miss Augusta.”
Unlike, say, Roberto De Vicenzo, Nicklaus is good at math. Forget the number of women with which Woods has allegedly dallied. (Last I checked, the estimate was 19, not counting his wife.) The key numbers here are 18 and 14.
Nicklaus: “If Tiger is going to pass my record, I think this is a big year for him in that regard. If he doesn’t play this year, obviously the chore is going to be a little tougher.”
Nicklaus won 18 majors. Woods has 14. As Harig notes, half those 14 have come at courses on this year’s major rotation. Said Nicklaus: “He obviously loves Augusta, Pebble Beach [site of the 2010 U.S. Open] and St. Andrews [site of the British]. He basically owns all three of those places.”
The Masters is next month, as you might know, and guess what? According to an Associated Press press report that appeared Tuesday, Woods is home in Florida and practicing again after a week of family counseling in Arizona. And the third paragraph of the AP report, written by Doug Ferguson, will stand forever as a masterstroke of facts-with-a-twist journalism. Here it is:
Woods returned to his home near Orlando on Saturday and has been hitting balls on the range at Isleworth, not far from where he ran his SUV into a fire hydrant and a tree in a middle-of-the-night accident on Nov. 27 that set off shocking revelations of infidelity.
I don’t know if they have neighborhood co-op meetings at Tiger’s ritzy gated community, but if they do, I’m pretty sure the first item on his agenda will be this: “Can’t we do something about all these darn hydrants?”