You might as well give Tiger Woods his fifth green jacket
You had Charles Howell III explaining why Tiger’s game was good enough to win the Masters after an extended layoff; then it was Arjun Atwal and John Cook, two of Tiger’s closer friends at Isleworth, waxing poetic about how great Woods looked recently — and oh, by the way, they thinks his game can win at Augusta; and now we’ve got various tour players saying the chances of Tiger donning a fifth green jacket at Augusta are pretty good.
Oh, by the way, there’s a story circulating that a man with a Nike cap showed up at Augusta National for a practice round just yesterday in an attempt to reacquaint himself with the course he’s dominated so many times (I also heard from a couple of sources that he made another visit to August National earlier today).
The players are talking about Tiger like he never left. You can honestly hear the trepidation in their voice. As Jule Styne once wrote in her famed song, it looks like “the party’s over.”
Forget vying for first place the rest of this season, the rest of the tour seems to believe a five-plus month break away from the game won’t matter when Tiger places the white peg in the ground on Thursday at the Masters.
But are they giving Woods too much credit? Who knows for sure. I tend to believe it will take a little more than a couple rounds at Augusta National to get the tournament rust off. Plus, you’ve got to add in the nerves of playing in front of a crowd that, for once, probably won’t be entirely on his side.
Even Woods is nervous about the reception he’ll get on the first tee. Here’s what his comments were when Tom Rinaldi brought up the question in his recent interview with Woods:
Rinaldi: What reception are you expecting from fans?
Woods: I don’t know. I don’t know. I’m a little nervous about that to be honest with you.
Rinaldi: How much do you care?
Woods: It would be nice to hear a couple claps here and there. But also hope they clap for birdies, too.
What I find funny is how split the media seems to be on Tiger’s return at Augusta. You’ve got one side claiming he’ll be back without skipping a beat, while the other side claims it’ll take some time. But the players? They probably in camp one.
I’m honestly surprised many of them have been so unequivocal in their comments about how Woods would fair in his first event. I guess that means they’re (a) hoping to build Woods’ ego, or (b) praying their comments don’t come true and he looks off his game the first time back.
Regardless of what camp you’re in, I think it’s safe to say that there are a lot of people who think very highly of Tiger’s game — even after a long break away from the tour spotlight.
The best part is that we’ll all get to see just what kind of Tiger shows up soon enough.