Somewhere during that flight from Jupiter, Fla., to Augusta, Ga., Tiger Woods crossed a point of no return.
There’s no turning back. Now that he’s in Augusta – or at least his private plane is – Woods has no choice but to play the Masters.
Because backing out at this point would be a damning indictment of his game.
Woods practiced at Augusta National Tuesday because he’s convinced himself that if he’s not at least 100 percent ready, he’s pretty darn close. Bailing now would be devastating – not just on an emotional level, but a psychological one, as well.
Sure, Woods has said repeatedly that he’d only return when he’s ready to compete, and there’s a chance that he could say that his quick trip to Augusta showed him that there’s still much to be done. It’s just highly unlikely. Woods is an immensely proud man, and admitting that even after two months he’s not quite ready would be a very public admission of weakness.
This will-he-or-won’t-he soap opera has recalled the days of spring 2010, but the comparisons to this ordeal fall flat. That year a rusty Woods parachuted into Augusta after his personal life unraveled and somehow had a chance to win. The difference now is that Woods is 39, in the final act of his career, and over the past five years he’s dealt with injuries and scandal and an unprecedented loss of form. How his fragile game stands up to the major pressure next week will be 1A to Rory McIlroy’s pursuit of the career Grand Slam.
An announcement that Woods will play the Masters seems inevitable.
That he even boarded the plane to Augusta was revealing enough.