At around 1:42 PM, Tiger Woods stepped up to the first tee at Augusta National. The world felt like it froze for about three minutes. Being the curious (nosy) creatures human beings are, we were What was the reception going to be like? How was Tiger going to play? How was he going to act?
There was one minor disturbance. Minutes before Tiger teed off, a plane — a welcome wagon, if you will — circled the skies above, carrying a banner on its tail: “Tiger: Did You Mean Bootyism?”
Apparently a second plane graced Augusta National’s air space, bearing yet another message: “Sex addict? Yeah right. Sure. Me too!”
What a sight! But Tiger wasn’t fazed. The planes came and circled around like pesky vultures as the crowd pointed and guffawed at the signs taunting Tiger from the hostile-looking skies above. The banners hovered just long enough to track him for a hole or two, get in a photo op. before jetting home.
Other than those minor disturbances, there wasn’t a negative word uttered (loud enough to catch any attention) in the galleries. Only cheers were heard bellowing from the adoring droves
Because this is The Masters, the fans — excuse me, I mean, patrons — behave with decorum, notwithstanding an occasional heckler. As he walked to the tees, there was no indication of anything other than supportive claps and cheers. He acknowledged the gallery (because he does that now) with a small smile.
How would he hit his first drive? His eyes closed in on the target. I recognize that stare, maybe a little softer, but the same unwavering focus and drive. I held my breath. Then there was a crack. Boom! Straight down the middle of the fairway. A twirl of the club through the hands.
I got tingly. Giddy, too. Then I realized it was a feeling I hadn’t experienced in at least five months. I felt a rush — like the one that makes other sports fun and riveting to watch — something only Tiger can conjure (and unfortunately, my choice of words could be interpreted as dirty, but I assure you that wasn’t the intent).
Welcome back, Tiger.
[Top photo by David Cannon/Getty Images; second photo by Chris O’Meara/AP]