As we all found out today, Tiger Woods will officially be making his return at the Masters on April 8, but should we have expected anything less? Twenty-five days after a statement at PGA Headquarters when Tiger said he was unsure about his return to golf, it is official that he will return in another twenty-three days, almost seven weeks after that initial statement.
In a statement released by Tiger today, he said, "The Masters is where I won my first major and I view this tournament with great respect. After a long and necessary time away from the game, I feel like I'm ready to start my season at Augusta. The major championships have always been a special focus in my career and, as a professional, I think Augusta is where I need to be, even though it's been a while since I last played."
As Tiger stated, and is well known to the sporting world, Tiger plays to win the majors. Sitting at fourteen, four away from Jack Nicklaus, and the 2010 layout also presents what has been called Tiger's best chance to achieve the Grand Slam in one calendar year. A four-time winner at Augusta, Tiger is familiar with the course, one great reason to return at Augusta. Second, tight security is a given at Augusta. Woods has the most security around him on any given weekend on the PGA Tour, but one can see it being taken up an extra measure at Augusta. And third, the crowds should not be as bad at Augusta, as they might have been at Bay Hill, where many had thought Tiger might return. For a club, in Augusta, that still does not allow women members, and where tickets to the event are multi-hundreds of dollars for a day, the rowdy hecklers may not be as numerous at the Masters, especially in this economy.
The return at Augusta just makes too much sense, personally and professionally. Look for Eldrick to come out firing on April 8. He has always been one that looks to silence his critics with his play. What better way then to come back at a Major Tournament and do just that? And in a bit of foresight, what if Tiger were to complete the Grand Slam this year? It would put him in a tie with Nicklaus at 18 major championships, and more than likely would leave the talk of his personal life far away in the rearview mirror of the media.