Woods will return at Masters

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Tournament badges are still tough to obtain, media access is limited and security will be the same.

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Four-time champion Tiger Woods announced Tuesday that he will make his 16th Masters Tournament appearance in April.  File/Staff
File/Staff
Four-time champion Tiger Woods announced Tuesday that he will make his 16th Masters Tournament appearance in April.

Tiger Woods' return to this year's Masters Tournament will not change the operations surrounding the April 8-11 event.

Woods, who has not played competitively since winning the Australian Masters in November, announced his return to golf Tuesday. His return has been highly anticipated after the events of Thanksgiving night at Woods' Florida home led to revelations of a sex scandal, which touched off a media frenzy.

"The Masters is where I won my first major and I view this tournament with great respect," Woods said in a statement. "After a long and necessary time away from the game, I feel like I'm ready to start my season at Augusta."

Woods is a four-time Masters winner. He has 14 career victories in golf's major championships, and is second all-time to Jack Nicklaus, who has 18.

"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," Woods said.

Billy Payne, the chairman of the Masters and Augusta National Golf Club, said the club is supportive of Woods' return.

"We support Tiger's decision to return to competitive golf beginning at this year's Masters Tournament," Payne said in a statement. "Additionally, we support and encourage his stated commitment to continue the significant work required to rebuild his personal and professional life."

A safer place

The Masters offers a controlled environment for Woods, who has been chased by tabloid media since he crashed his vehicle outside his home in November. Augusta National limits media credentials -- the club said it grants access to those whose principal responsibility is to cover the game of golf and the Masters Tournament -- and it is the only authorized source of Masters badges. The tournament's patrons are known for their manners and hospitality; rowdy fans run the risk of losing their badges for good.

Security at Augusta National is provided by a private firm and is supplemented by the Richmond County Sheriff's Office.

Richmond County Col. Gary Powell said he has heard no requests for any changes to their security plan because of Woods' appearance. He said they don't anticipate any major problems with either the media or crowds.

"We have that place sealed up tight," Powell said.

Masters badges are considered one of the toughest tickets to obtain, but don't look for a big increase in pricing, said Mark Young, the owner of Corporate Sporting Events in Augusta.

"When the vibe came around last week in regard to him most likely coming, there was a little bit of a change," Young said. "But it went away just as fast it came."

Young's business specializes in package deals that offer badges, housing, transportation and other amenities (such as food and tee times) that clients want. He said interest in packages has remained steady through the winter. But demand for badges could spike if Woods is in contention on the weekend.

"It's exciting and we're looking forward to a great tournament," Young said. "If he were to get into the hunt, you would definitely see a movement out there with ticket holders."

The return

Woods' ascension to the top of golf more than a decade ago made his fall from grace even more spectacular.

In his first public appearance since the scandal drove him into seclusion, the world's No. 1 golfer apologized in February for his marital infidelity and admitted he was undergoing therapy.

Woods married Elin Nordegren in 2004. The couple have two children, Sam Alexis and Charlie Axel.

"I have undergone almost two months of inpatient therapy and I am continuing my treatment," said Woods, who was in a Mississippi clinic for 45 days and then attended a clinic in Arizona for one week. "Although I'm returning to competition, I still have a lot of work to do in my personal life."

Speculation in recent weeks had Woods returning to golf at either the Tavistock Cup, a competition between Orlando, Fla., clubs, or the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Both events will be held next week.

"When I finally got into a position to think about competitive golf again, it became apparent to me that the Masters would be the earliest I could play," he said. "I called both Joe Lewis and Arnold Palmer and expressed my regrets for not attending the Tavistock Cup and the Arnold Palmer Invitational. I again want to thank them both for their support and their understanding. Those are fantastic tournaments and I look forward to competing in them again."

Woods scored a watershed victory in the 1997 Masters, his first major as a professional. He became the first black golfer to win a major, and he set Masters records for youngest winner (21) and 72-hole total (270).

The victory set the record for television ratings for a golf tournament -- an estimated 43 million viewers tuned in for the final round -- and similar ratings could occur for CBS this year if Woods makes the 36-hole cut and is in contention on the weekend.

"I think the first tournament Tiger Woods plays again, wherever it is, will be the biggest media event other than the Obama inauguration in the past 10 or 15 years," said CBS News and Sports president Sean McManus in an interview published on si.com before Tuesday's announcement.

Woods, 34, added Masters victories in 2001, 2002 and 2005.

"I would also like to thank the Augusta National members and staff for their support," Woods said. "I have deep appreciation for everything that they do to create a wonderful event for the benefit of the game."

Staff writer Adam Folk contributed to this article.

A Statement from Tiger Woods:

Tiger Woods announced today that he will begin his 2010 season at the Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club in April.

“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.

“I have undergone almost two months of inpatient therapy and I am continuing my treatment.  Although I’m returning to competition, I still have a lot of work to do in my personal life.

“When I finally got into a position to think about competitive golf again, it became apparent to me that the Masters would be the earliest I could play. I called both Joe Lewis and Arnold Palmer and expressed my regrets for not attending the Tavistock Cup and the Arnold Palmer Invitational.  I again want to thank them both for their support and their understanding.  Those are fantastic tournaments and I look forward to competing in them again.

“I would also like to thank the Augusta National members and staff for their support. I have deep appreciation for everything that they do to create a wonderful event for the benefit of the game.”

The big questions

Q: With Woods playing this year, what is the market for badges?

A: Costs vary according to what other services (housing, food, transportation) are offered. For Woods' historic win in 1997, four-day tournament badges fetched more than $6,000, said Mark Young, the owner of Corporate Sporting Events. "In those times it was sort of exciting, but I don't think we'll see those days again," he said.

Q: When will Woods arrive in Augusta?

A: As a former champion, he has a lifetime invitation to play in the Masters. He also can play the course in preparation for the tournament. In recent years, Woods has shown up on the Sunday before the tournament to play a practice round. He typically conducts a pretournament interview on the Tuesday of Masters Week, but that schedule has not been announced.

Q: Where will Woods stay?

A: Woods traditionally rents a private home in west Augusta. Augusta National has several cabins on its property, but those are reserved for use only by club members.

Q: Can I get a Masters badge?

A: The Masters is still considered one of the toughest tickets in sports. Augusta National Golf Club is the only authorized source for badges, but they can also be obtained through brokers. A waiting list to receive series badges, good for all four tournament rounds, was closed in 1978. Tickets for the practice rounds were limited and sold in advance beginning in 1995.

-- John Boyette, sports editor

Comments (41) Add comment
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Chillen
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Chillen 03/16/10 - 10:43 am
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The scalpers price of tickets

The scalpers price of tickets just went up by about $200 per day.

Nat the Cat
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Nat the Cat 03/16/10 - 10:46 am
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Chillen, the price of Series

Chillen, the price of Series Badges just went from 1k to 2500-3000k. It's amazing what impact Tiger has on the Game.

soldout
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soldout 03/16/10 - 11:09 am
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If will be interesting to see

If will be interesting to see if all has happened will effect his mental focus when he is playing the game. I think it will have a negative effect on his game.

boonieman45
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boonieman45 03/16/10 - 11:16 am
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Tiger is an assassin on the

Tiger is an assassin on the course.His mental focus will not be clouded at all.Hecklers will not rob him of his focus either,Do not be surprised if he wears the green again.Don't ever underestimate the heart of a TRUE champion.

Dixieman
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Dixieman 03/16/10 - 11:20 am
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Good, maybe now I can rent my

Good, maybe now I can rent my house. Very slow market this year.

Nat the Cat
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Nat the Cat 03/16/10 - 11:39 am
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Soldout, I agree in the sense

Soldout, I agree in the sense that Tiger's debacle in no way, could have helped his game....it was, and is, a definite distraction.
But as Boonie pointed out, Tiger has the greatest Mental Game of any player that I have had the pleasure of watching including the great Jack Nicklaus. Tiger could actually come into Augusta not having played in a Tournament since November, and without playing a "warm-up" Tournament at Bay Hill and Win the Masters. It will be interesting to see what kind of numbers that Vegas puts out on the odds of that happening! My guess would be 3 or 4 to 1.

soldout
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soldout 03/16/10 - 11:37 am
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We will see about his mental

We will see about his mental focus. That focus told him he could control anything but it failed him off the course; the question becomes, does it only fail off the course, and not on the course. It will be interesting to watch.

Nat the Cat
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Nat the Cat 03/16/10 - 03:28 pm
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I can't wait! On a side note,

I can't wait!
On a side note, Rob Pavey posed the question, in the comments section of the other Tiger article, asking if the Augusta National would issue Press Credentials to the National Enquirer? I think Rob was being facetious, but I wonder if the Paparazzi could get Press Credentials?....I know they can buy Series Badges!

Notreally
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Notreally 03/16/10 - 12:03 pm
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I wonder how many women will

I wonder how many women will try and get his attention, or will he have MALE waiters now.

John Boyette
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John Boyette 03/16/10 - 12:23 pm
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Not likely for any tabloid

Not likely for any tabloid media to get in. Augusta National says that it credentials "those whose principle responsibility is to cover the game of golf and the Masters Tournament."

Nat the Cat
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Nat the Cat 03/16/10 - 12:44 pm
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Thank you, Mr. Boyette, for

Thank you, Mr. Boyette, for that information. I hope the tabloids stay out of the Masters. As one very intelligent Editor once noted, "The Masters is bigger that any "one," man!

gogbd
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gogbd 03/16/10 - 12:44 pm
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Looks like this is about to

Looks like this is about to turn the Masters tourn. into a Circus with its lead Tiger as the headliner. Wonder if they will have cotton candy and popcorn in the Big Top.

Mr. Thackeray
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Mr. Thackeray 03/16/10 - 12:59 pm
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This place will be a ZOO!

This place will be a ZOO!

John Boyette
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John Boyette 03/16/10 - 01:54 pm
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I think it will be business

I think it will be business as usual "inside the bamboo," as Augusta National folks like to say about their place. But outside, yes, it could very well be a zoo.

getsome
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getsome 03/16/10 - 02:08 pm
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I was really hoping Tiger was

I was really hoping Tiger was going to show some class for once. Showing up at the first major, to continue his pursuit of the most major wins, just shows it's ALL about him and no one or nothing else. Guess it really is true - a tiger cannot, and in this case, will not change its stripes.

augustadog
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augustadog 03/16/10 - 02:39 pm
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Looking forward to seeing

Looking forward to seeing Tiger in Augusta. I am sure the Club will do a good job keeping the RIF RAF press out, i.e. National Enquirer, and the rest of the garbage press maybe downtown at the Wisk A Go Go....

Augusta is the golf capital of the world. Let's keep it the Classiest Tournamet as well.

sgachief
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sgachief 03/16/10 - 02:40 pm
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three ring crappy circus

three ring crappy circus coming to town!!! he's still self centered as ever. glad i won't be there.

seenitB4
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seenitB4 03/16/10 - 03:30 pm
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He will play & he will

He will play & he will win...I think he could focus even if he played nekkid.

storiesihaveread
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storiesihaveread 03/16/10 - 04:14 pm
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Yeah ebay the prices are

Yeah ebay the prices are going sky up now for even practice round tickets. Last week they were selling a little over face value

TrukinRanger
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TrukinRanger 03/16/10 - 04:33 pm
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Yawn
Unpublished

Yawn

speedy6492
30
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speedy6492 03/16/10 - 05:53 pm
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Well, it's about time!!

Well, it's about time!!

CitadelCadetCaravan
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CitadelCadetCaravan 03/16/10 - 06:59 pm
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Maybe this or another golfing

Maybe this or another golfing "great" can show even more "class" and be rewarded for their comeback. Sports figures are so outside mainstream...and I love the bafoons who continue to applaud these "comebacks" and "rehabilitations". Plus, you can't even "boo" or "hiss" at stupid golf! I love AugustaDog's comment: keepin it classy and keepin the RifRaf out. What? They are not letting Tiger in? I'll head to Hooters and have drinks with Tiger's ....uh hmmmm...."friends". LOL

Southern_Patriot
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Southern_Patriot 03/16/10 - 07:06 pm
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Yawn #2

Yawn #2

gogbd
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gogbd 03/16/10 - 07:14 pm
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Unfortunatly the only player

Unfortunatly the only player that will be focused on is the Tiger. What about the true Masters of this competition. How awfull for the Masters tourn. to be so much cheapened by one participant. But from what I hear about the new REGIME at the Masters this year it is all about $$$$$$$. Tiger probably wont even leave the grounds during the week. This should be an advantage for him over the other players. How did Billy Payne get this club this way so quick.

gogbd
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gogbd 03/16/10 - 07:17 pm
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Love Augusta .Love the

Love Augusta .Love the Masters. Is Obama coming to promote Health Care at the Masters this year. Must be why Woods is coming.

visitsaludasc
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visitsaludasc 03/16/10 - 08:11 pm
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CB$, the PGreenA, and the

CB$, the PGreenA, and the Moneyasters are having a party tonight! "The Herd" on E$PN radio said, "what does morals have to do with $ports?" responce:Abo$uletly nothing "0"!

IN HONOR OF "Tiger Woods Returns":

Humpty Dumpty

Humpty Dumpty sat on the wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the kings horses, and all the kings men. Couldn't put Humpty Dumpty back together again.

johnston.cliff
2
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johnston.cliff 03/17/10 - 04:45 am
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Nothing will change at the

Nothing will change at the masters with the return of Tiger, but the tv viewership will double. I'm glad to see his return and I hope he wins by 13 strokes.

RogueKnight
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RogueKnight 03/17/10 - 07:11 am
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BFD

BFD

humbleopinion
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humbleopinion 03/17/10 - 07:18 am
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Who didn't know that he would

Who didn't know that he would return for the Masters? There is too much MONEY involved and his sponsors would insist on him being here. I think it shows that he is only in it for the money and not really concerned about his personal reputation or working on his "personal life". Skipping the Masters would have been a great PR move on his part.....Too bad the money talked louder than any sense of decency.

Lorraine
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Lorraine 03/17/10 - 07:59 am
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If Tiger believes that it is

If Tiger believes that it is the right time for him to come out and play again, it is his decision. Humbleopinion, I doubt that skipping the Masters would put a dent in Tiger's pockets. After all, he is a billionaire man. So it is highly unlikely that Tiger is coming to the Masters only for the money. Just a thought....

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