Since the news broke Tuesday that Tiger would be returning to competitive golf at the Masters, much of the discussion has centered around how, and if, Augusta, Ga., will be affected by Tiger’s debut.
The general consensus is that not much will be different on the stunning green grounds of Augusta National. No more tickets will be sold. No more media credentials will be available. And for the most part, not much will change in the local economy since the hotels in the charming southern town and surrounding areas are completely booked each and every year for the season’s first major championship.
The patrons in attendance will most likely be polite and if they don’t want to lose their rights to a ticket, they’ll refrain from behavior that would be unbecoming of a spectator at Augusta National. The media will most likely be asked to keep their questioning to golf and not to venture into the personal life of Tiger Woods. But how about when Tiger tees it up for the second time this year?
If the world’s No. 1 player sticks to his usual schedule from here on out, expect stop No. 2 to come at the Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, N.C., and expect the Queen City to not roll out the same royal treatment for Tiger that he’ll receive in Augusta.
Don’t get me wrong here – Charlotte is a fabulous city and the Quail Hollow Championship is a superbly run top-notch event. It’s one of the best run tournaments on the PGA Tour. Year after year it receives high praise by golfers and fans. And last year the tournament was awarded “Best in Class” by the Tour Advisory Committee for “excellence in all phases of tournament operations and attention to detail in their entire presentation.”
It’s a first-class event. But Tiger can’t expect to enter into the same impeccably controlled environment in his second start as he will have for his first. And this is where we will see the comeback Tiger.
The second start will be a much more accurate barometer of how the fans and media will receive Tiger’s return as well. At some point Tiger will face uncensored questions from the media and scrutiny from those who were once his greatest fans. The true test will be how Tiger reacts in this setting – the second start. In his February statement Tiger said he wanted to make his “behavior more respectful of the game.” This is where his behavior inside the ropes will be tested. And outside the ropes, the same holds true in his interaction with fans and media. This is where Tiger can really attempt his comeback.
So get ready Charlotte, it shouldn’t be very long before the “no vacancy” signs in your hotels will be turning on.