THE GOOD: Tiger Woods announced Tuesday that he was returning to professional competition at the Masters Tournament. It will mark his first tournament since he won the Australian Masters Nov. 15 in Melbourne – and his first event since his world came crashing down 12 days thereafter. Sunday, he finally opened up to the media, talking one-on-one with Golf Channel's Kelly Tilghman.
The decision to make his 2010 debut at Augusta National works on many levels for Woods. The crowd will be congenial, and likely very supportive. He can also dictate to what degree he wants to address the press. As for the media, Woods offered a salvo Sunday with Golf Channel. There are still plenty of questions people will want to ask – and more explanation than he offered in his interview – but Woods may have already said everything he's going to say.
THE BAD: On the same day Tiger Woods made official his eventual return to golf, he was lampooned by the adult-natured cartoon 'South Park.' Two days later an alleged mistress and ex-porn star released sexually graphic text messages she claimed were from Woods. Friday, it was announced that Woods would not have a corporate sponsor on his bag to replace AT&T.
Ironically, Woods is an admitted 'South Park' fan. At least he used to be. But for all the derogatory press, a lot people will push the negativity surrounding Woods into the back recesses of their minds once he competes again. Most people just want to see Woods play again. When that happens, that is all that will matter to them.
THE WHAT?: No sooner had Tiger Woods announced that he was returning to compete in the Masters Tournament, British bookies made him the favorite to win the season's first major championship. Woods was immediately listed as a 4-to-1 favorite, with odds set at 25-to-1 for him winning all four majors this season.
It seems absurd, but who wants to bet against Woods? If he wins the Masters, it will be the biggest victory in golf history – perhaps in all of sports. And if he were to win – after five months off and everything he's been through – what would it take for him to NOT be the betting favorite at any future major. The world tours would have to start allowing robots to play and have IBM invent golf's version of Deep Blue.
FINALLY FURYK: Jim Furyk ended a near three-year winless drought on the PGA Tour by capturing the Transitions Championship at Innisbrook. Furyk saw a three-stroke overnight lead evaporate early Sunday, but three birdies in a five-hole stretch midway through his round – and a scrambling bogey at the 18th – helped seal his 14th career Tour title by one shot over K.J. Choi.
Tiger Woods will steal all the headlines at Augusta National. But with Ernie Els winning two weeks ago, Furyk winning this week, and the likes of Retief Goosen, Padraig Harrington, Steve Stricker and Vijay Singh playing well recently, we could be in for a fantastic first major of the season – regardless of how well or poorly Woods plays.
DEDICATED MAN: Geoff Ogilvy made the cut on the number at the Transitions Championship, at 2 over par. He then shot 65-74 over the weekend to tie for 28th.
Big deal, right? Well, Ogilvy thought he was going to miss the cut but decided at the last minute – or maybe one minute too late – to stick around to see if his score stood up. The problem was, he couldn't retrieve his clubs from the airline and had to fly to Phoenix Friday night [in coach, no less]. He then had to return immediately to make his 8:55 a.m. tee time Saturday in Tampa, Fla. It's not like he had to engage in a triathlon Saturday morning, but give the Aussie credit for not only staying in the tournament, but not tanking either. Plenty of others would have had a big WD by their name.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Padraig Harrington spent St. Patrick's Day at the White House. ... Paula Creamer pulled out of the upcoming Kia Classic, the LPGA's first event on American soil this year, due to an injured left thumb. ... Jose Maria Olazabal withdrew from the Masters Tournament due to a recurrence of rheumatism. ... CA decided not to renew its contract with the PGA Tour to sponsor the World Golf Championships event at Doral. ... Rhys Davies won the Trophee Hassan II.
Harrington presented President Obama with a set of left-handed Wilson golf clubs. ... If it's not one thing, it's another for Creamer. It's still unsure if she will be able to compete in the season's first major, the Kraft Nabisco Championship, in two weeks. ... Olazabal has been dealing with this issue for nearly 15 years. Hopefully this is just a minor set back for the two-time Masters champion. ... Doral should be a regular stop on Tour and another WGC event should be held overseas. ...It was Davies' first win on the European Tour.