AP reports Tiger could return at The Masters; does it make sense?
Well if you wanted a story to really sink your teeth into last night, you got it in the form of an AP report. Doug Ferguson from the Associated Press, citing multiple sources, reported that Tiger Woods could be making his return at Augusta National for The Masters, not Bay Hill (as first reported by the New York Post).
After watching Tiger take the podium a couple weeks ago and proclaim that he’d be making a return to golf, but he didn’t know when that would be, Woods went out, got a second helping of therapy in Arizona, and returned to the practice range before anyone could blink. The opening stories had him returning at the Tavistock Cup or Bay Hill, but those appear to be very different stories from what the AP has heard.
While we can only speculate on Tiger’s return at this time, the thought of the game’s number one player returning for a major championship on one hand makes sense; but it should leave many questioning if this really is the right call.
The Personal Side
There’s part of me that can agree with Tiger’s personal decision to return at Augusta National. Not only is the tournament the most prestigious golf tournament in the world next to the British Open, it’s also has a media buffer to keep the riff-raff out of the event. (I’m talking about you, TMZ sports, National Enquirer, etc.)
Allowing Woods to make his comeback at an event where the patrons are known for being cordial and respectful of the players would allow him the chance to play amongst crowds that wouldn’t dare boo him on the first tee. You just don’t do that at Augusta National. And I can assure you if someone did, they’d be thrown out on their ass so fast you’d never know they entered the gates.
Augusta National’s affinity for keeping major stories under wraps during the tournament (see: The National Council of Women’s Organizations fiasco) has been well known for some time know. And while Tiger knows he can’t hide from the press and forever, he knows that coming back at Augusta probably makes the most sense from a personal standpoint. The press have to play nice at The Masters. It’s just the way things are at the hallowed club.
I may not always agree with it, but you just don’t mess with a club as powerful at Augusta National.
The Playing Side
Now let’s look at this decision from a golf aspect. Sure, coming back at The Masters makes sense on paper; but you still have to ask yourself why Tiger would decided to make his first tournament a major championship.
If you’ll recall, Woods made his return to professional golf following more than a month-long layoff to grieve following his fathers death at Winged Foot for the 2006 US Open, and he promptly missed the cut.
While I’m not saying the circumstances surrounding his return to golf this time around is the same as the last, there’s part of me that wonders if playing in a tour event at, say, Bay Hill, would better prepare Tiger for The Masters.
Kobe Bryant wouldn’t show up and expect to show up and dominate the NBA Finals if he took four months off prior to the championship series. So why would Woods even think about making such a choice? To me, it just doesn’t make sense.
Like Tiger has said so many times before, he’s got his ‘Ranger Rick’ routine, and then he’s got his golf game that’s set for major championship play. Nobody should expect him to translate range practice into a green jacket after a significant time away from professional golf.
If Tiger does return at The Masters, you can expect a television viewing audience the likes of which we’ve never seen. Let’s just hope Tiger knows what he’s doing this time around, because given how long he’s been away from the game, he’s bound to have some rust. And we all know you don’t want to be rusty when the major championship come around.