Special to Bleacher Report
When you think of the Masters, you envision tradition, history and the green, the pastoral setting of America’s most storied golf event.
This week in Augusta, the Masters will be held for the 74th time, but for perhaps the first time, golf will not be the reason throngs descend on this cozy corner of Georgia.
They are mostly coming to see the resumption of the career of one Eldrick Tont Woods, the 34-year-old superstar who is returning to the tour after a six-month absence. Woods’ career and personal life were nearly derailed by multiple indiscretions with women who were not his wife.
The media has feasted on Woods’ foolishly explicit and tawdry electronic exchanges with his growing scores of partners, painting him as some perverted fraternity prankster that used women to pad his already inflated ego.
Regardless of what anyone’s opinion of Woods is, his absence from the tour has left it stale, with no one golfer rearing their head to stake a claim at the top. The usual suspects have stayed in the mix: Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els, Jim Furyk, Padraig Harrington et al, but none has managed to cause a stir. Not the way Woods usually does, anyway.
The gallery this year will be a cross-section between golf purists, who are respectful and serene in nature, and 21st Century paparazzi, who are totally devoid of any semblance of morals.
In the meanwhile, golf’s television ratings have plummeted as interest in Woods has skyrocketed. It is the wrong kind of interest, I assure you. Many of Woods’ major sponsors have run for cover and the sport’s usual sponsors are not seeing their normal financial return.
This week will gauge the temperature of those peripheral issues. Will the public accept Woods back into the fold? Will the sponsors return as well? Can Woods return to his old form? Does anyone that matters care anymore?
These stories and more as the week unfolds….tomorrow....If Not Tiger, Who..? Five Players to Watch This Weekend