The countdown begins. Twenty-three days until Tiger comes back to golf at The Masters. (I can almost hear the corks popping off the bottles of Veuve in Ponte Vedra Beach!) Everybody is weighing in on the big news. Obviously the knee-jerk responses are filled with generic positive words like “great,” “good” and “pleased.”
Let’s first turn to PGA Tour Commish Tim Finchem, who must have a permanent grin on his face today:
We were pleased to learn that Tiger Woods will be playing The Masters in a few weeks. He has invested a lot of time taking steps, both in his personal and professional life, in order to prepare for his return. We all wish him and his family the best as he rejoins the TOUR.
Strangely enough, TMZ got a hold of Masters chairman Bill Payne for comment:
We support Tiger’s decision to return to competitive golf beginning at this year’s Masters Tournament. Additionally, we support and encourage his stated commitment to continue the significant work required to rebuild his personal and professional life.
I’m sure he’s also thrilled with The Masters’ new name — Tiger’s Comeback.
Arnold Palmer, who spoke with Tiger, reports, “He had some zip in his voice,” and explains why The Masters makes sense for Tiger’s first tournament:
Augusta is one place in the world that you can really have control, and they will control everything from the crowds to the situation that will be facing Tiger. I think that if there is a place in the world that you can do that and do it properly, Augusta will do that.
Even though Augusta officials will enforce an Alcatraz-like lockdown on the grounds, it’s still going to be a madhouse.
So what about his fellow players? Last week Steve Stricker said in the nicest way possible that Tiger making his comeback at The Masters would be selfish because it would overshadow the tournament. Behind closed doors, some are probably fuming over the timing, but many believe he’ll be the same Tiger on the golf course.
Trevor Immelman, the 2008 Masters champion, states the obvious:
I think it’s fantastic for the game and for the TOUR and our sponsors to have the opportunity to have him back. That’s a no-brainer.
John Daly is surprised at the decision:
Business as usual, him being inside the ropes, he’ll be focused on what he needs to do. I really thought he’d play Bay Hill, a tournament before Augusta just to get it all out.
Carl Pettersson gives an optimistic take on Tiger’s game:
I wouldn’t be surprised if he wins just because he’s that type of guy. It’ll be interesting.
Justin Rose agrees:
I’m sure he’s going to be motivated. I think the best way for he to put this all to rest is to win the golf tournament, so that’s obviously going to be his goal.
So does Jim Furyk:
You never bet against him. In the last 22 months, he’s played, what, 15 events? … He’s been able to overcome it before. He seems to be able to take a bunch of time off and pop right up there and be the same old guy. Not many players, no one that I know of, are actually capable of that. But he does it well.
Same with Rocco Mediate:
I don’t have any worries about what he’ll do when he comes back. If he wins the Masters, it will not be a surprise to me. Period. I know he hasn’t been around for a while, and I know he’s been through hell but physically he’s OK and mentally he’s got to deal with it. But if anyone can do it, he can do it. If anyone can pull this off, he’ll pull it off.
I guess the mystique is still there. Hooray? It’s uncertain how he’ll play, but I agree — as history has proved, Tiger continually pulls off the unbelievable. Well, one thing’s for sure, The Masters will be the most watched golfing event in history. Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if it garners ratings higher than the Super Bowl.