In case you've been living in a cave, Team Tiger announced yesterday that he will return to competitive golf at Augusta National and The Masters. Yes, prayers were answered (and not at Amen Corner) by PGA Tour officials and network execs who needed Woods to come back to salvage this season of golfing majors and tournament broadcast.
The big winners here are:
- EA Sports, which had gone ahead and released a Woods-themed video game for the coming year.
- Nike, who once again has its primary spokesperson out and visible on the field of play--not behind the microphone at a stilted "press conference."
- CBS, who will garner killer rankings off its broadcast of The Masters. That one-year contract never looked so good!
- AT&T, who dropped Woods during the course of Tiger-gate, but is one of three sponsors of The Masters telecast.
By playing at Augusta, Woods allows himself the opportunity to fail--it's a major on a difficult course. If he's not putting well or driving accurately, then his mistakes won't be as magnified as what might happen if he would have decided to return at Bay Hill or another non-major event. What CBS will hope for is that he makes the cut and survives to the weekend, thus prolonging the expected ratings bonanza.
Will Elin be at Augusta or will his mom continue the role of being at Tiger's side? Will caddy Steve Williams' brusque relationship with tournament attendees grow even more strident in an attempt to control the circus around Woods' return? And, how will Tiger's peers accept him in the clubhouse and locker room?
All juicy stuff...and all to be told in the media frenzy which will occur the week of April 5.