AUGUSTA: At this year’s Masters, the biggest question is not who will claim the winner’s green jacket, but whether or not Tiger Woods can recapture the form that has made him a 14-time major champion.
Remorseful and humbled after confessions of adultery and months at the heart of a sex scandal firestorm, Woods arrives at Augusta National Golf Club on Thursday having not competed in an event since winning the Australian Masters in mid-November. “It’s obviously going to be the biggest thing in sport that week,” said South African star Ernie Els, who won the two biggest Masters tuneup events last month at Doral and Bay Hill. “Not that Augusta has to shy away from anything but especially with Tiger coming back I think it’s going to be unbelievably big.”
Unable to control himself from cheating on his wife Elin with other women, the father of two — known for his control and discipline on the golf course — makes his dramatic comeback at a club where women are not allowed as members. “I’m excited to get back to playing. I miss competing,” Woods said last month. “I’m starting to get my feel back. I know how to play the course. I just have to go out and play it.”
World No 1 Woods, chasing the all-time record of 18 major titles won
by Jack Nicklaus, has 71 career PGA victories, two behind Nicklaus
and 11 shy of Sam Snead’s record. Woods has four Masters titles, the most recent in 2005. “Tiger Woods is the biggest story,” British Open champion Stewart Cink said.
“I think it’s going to be one of the biggest events in golf history because the biggest player in golf history is going to come back from this absence. Everybody is going to be scrutinizing his game and what he says and where he goes — everything. It will also end up being a great tournament because he will probably end up in the mix. It will just be really compelling. I believe he can be a factor.”