The Tiger Woods camp said in a first-person statement an hour ago that the golfer will return to the sport on April 8th for the Masters tournament.
Woods took the opportunity to apologize to the organizers of the Tavistock Cup and the Arnold Palmer Invitational, for skipping the two events he could have used as tune-ups for the major.
Luckily for Tiger, the Masters is total media lockdown. Yahoo! Sports columnist Dan Wetzel pointed out last week that there is no better place to play golf and avoid tabloid reporters, cell phone cams, and other user-generated media. The heirloom ticket system with $500 plus secondary tickets makes it an unlikely location for Happy Gilmore scenarios.
Wetzel also points out that it would have been gutsier to actually play a round of golf first, and play it at the Palmer Invitational, a much looser event for the press. Now the rusty Woods has to bring his best game to save face. Statistically he has to play every major if he hopes to overtake Jack Nicklaus, even if this one is particularly long odds. Missing the cut at +15, or worse, showing unchecked emotion would be a problem.
Here’s the statement in its entirety:
“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.