This was Woods’ first tournament since November. A Thanksgiving night car crash had ripped his personal life apart, revealing a golfer with an impeccable reputation who was actually leading a sordid double life.
For a while mistresses were coming forward on an almost daily basis. Woods went into hiding and tried to figure out how to save his marriage. He even checked into rehab for 45 days, hoping to learn how it all went wrong, a process of self-examination that he admits revealed plenty of flaws.
Despite his disappointment Sunday, Woods clearly made the right personal decision to make his return at Augusta; it exhibits more control over ticketing and media credentials than any other tournament. Everyone expected the fans would be polite, and they seemed to warm to Woods as the week went on. The muted applause got louder and louder when it became apparent he would be a contender.
It might be different at future tournaments, where the crowds are rowdier and the tabloid media may have more success gaining access.
Woods is more concerned about getting his game in shape.
“Other than my backswing going bad and my downswing going bad, it wasn’t too bad,” he griped.
Woods said he’s not sure when he’ll play again, but the next stop in his comeback figures to be the Quail Hollow Championship, which begins April 29 in Charlotte, N.C. That would give him a tuneup for the Players Championship the following week, considered the biggest event on the PGA Tour outside of the four majors.
“I’m going to take a little time off,” is all Woods would say, “and kind of re-evaluate things.”
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