Who would you pair with Tiger Woods?
Phil Mickelson? Steve Stricker? They're the highest ranked players in the field other than Woods, but would the pairing be fair to them in their bids to win?
Unlike on the PGA Tour, computers don’t spit out the pairings at the Masters. Augusta National Golf Club officials will decide which two players tee it up with Woods over the first two rounds. You wonder if they’ll hand out blindfolds and cigarettes to the two players they select to go off with him. You wonder because their chances of winning the Masters will seem doomed by the extraordinary nature of the circumstances.
Whoever gets paired with Woods in his return is getting a bad draw. There will be an overpowering sense of irrelevance about their games. This is despite the fact that there isn’t a better place to be matched with Woods in his high-profile return because of the way Augusta National controls its environment. Hey, these folks can make dogwoods and azaleas bloom on command.
If Woods had returned at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, his playing partners would stand no chance given the circus that would have set up there. At the Masters, there are no media or photographers inside the ropes or on the range. The patrons, as they’re called, know they can have their badges revoked if they heckle or step out of line.
Still, who would do you pair with Woods? Ryan Palmer said he would relish playing with Woods, which makes you wonder if the Augusta National committee ought to have a show of hands because the committee has to be as curious as we are who wants any part of that action. They’re going to pick somebody, who would you pick and why?