By S.C. Zuba
Let’s just say the field at the 2010 Masters just got a little bit tougher.
Last week, Tiger Woods announced he would break his four-month hiatus from professional golf and return to competition at the 2010 Masters at Augusta National. As much as the other players on tour say they are excited to have the world’s greatest golfer back on tour, I’m not buying it.
The truth is, with Tiger’s return to golf, their chances at winning any tournament this season just went down significantly—especially the major tournaments, of which Tiger has won 14.
Tiger will be back on tour in early April, and subsequently should start winning tournaments again somewhere around then. He is the world’s greatest golfer for a reason, and if there is one thing Tiger has shown America over the past decade, it’s that distractions don’t typically distract him. The hecklers in the crowd, the pressure of being the best, the constant target that is always on his back—none of which has ever affected him.
But Tiger has never experienced the type of scrutiny—both from the media and America—that he has over these past four months. Literally, every piece of Tiger’s life has been under America’s eye. Right or wrong, it is simply the way things have been for the entire Woods family. Tiger has become Public Enemy No. 1 in America.
So how will this affect the commander-in-chief of the golf world? My guess: not too much on the golf course. I believe this for one reason, and one reason only—Tiger Woods is different from any other golfer on the tour. His 10 Player of the Year awards separate him, his 14 majors separate him, and his 71 PGA Tour victories separate him.
Tiger is just on a different level, in a different world, than anybody else who decides to step foot on a golf course.
He is better. He is smarter. He is mentally tougher. He possesses what all athletes want—the ability to drown out everything else and succeed. He has proven that time and time again. But this will be the greatest challenge of Tiger’s life.
During an interview with ESPN Sunday evening (March 21), Tiger pledged “a life of amends.” His redemption process with his family has already begun, and when he sets foot on the first tee box at Augusta National, his redemption process with America will begin. People may not forgive him right away, but in time, they will.
It’s funny how fast people forget about the wrong-doings of their favorite athletes: see Michael Vick, Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, Donté Stallworth and Roger Clemens. OK, maybe not Clemens, but still. People will forget how poorly Tiger behaved when they remember how dominant he is on the golf course
Everybody who knew anything about golf figured Tiger wouldn’t miss the Masters. It’s his favorite tournament—probably because he has won the event four times. My prediction is that Tiger wins the 2010 Masters. He is Tiger Woods, and like I said, he is the best for a reason.
Share your thoughts with S.C. Zuba via e-mail at email@example.com.
From the March 24-30, 2010 issue