AUGUSTA, Ga. – When he arrived at just after 1:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, Tiger Woods looked the part of the reclusive bad boy in dark sunglasses and goatee. Other than that, though, he looked the same. Same walk, a man with something to do. Same build, a guy ready to flatten an NFL running back.
Tiger briefly shook hands with long-time golf writers Jim McCabe and Doug Ferguson but didn’t stop to chat. He ambled over to the right end of the new range. The first player to approach was Paul Casey. From a distance the banter appeared light. Tiger was waiting for Stevie Williams, who showed up about five minutes later.
Ben Crenshaw hit balls nearby but never broke from his session to gawk.
“It’s just Tiger,” said Oliver Wilson. “The media’s more excited than the players.”
Woods hit balls for about 15 minutes then went to the putting green. There, he spoke with Jim Furyk and Jim’s dad, Mike. There was some laughter. After 20 putts, Tiger hopped in a cart and headed to the 10th tee for nine holes with Mark O’Meara.
“He’s swinging well,” O’Meara told a handful of print journalists. “He was relaxed and ready to get back at it.
“He’s done a lot of good for the game. On the personal side it hasn’t been as good, but he realizes that and he’s trying to turn himself around as a person and a father.”
O’Meara last saw Tiger at the British Open last July. Steve Stricker hadn’t seen him since they teamed up at the President’s Cup.
“I saw him in the parking lot today,” said Stricker. “It was nice to see him away from a lot of people and I’m glad he’s back.”
Tiger went straight into the clubhouse after his nine holes. Twenty minutes later he got into his car and was gone. There’s never been a Sunday before the Masters quite like this one. And we’ll no doubt be able to say the same about Monday.