March 16th, 2010
06:51 PM ET

Can Tiger's return restore his legend?

If anyone had not yet formed an opinion on Tiger Woods, the return of the world number one to the game that made him a champion will surely provide food for thought.

Woods has been practising near his Florida home as he prepares for his return at Augusta next month.
Woods has been practising near his Florida home as he prepares for his return at Augusta next month.

The extra-marital affairs which forced the self-imposed exile of the 34-year-old is one thing, but the return of a great to the arena they once dominated will always attract interest.

Muhammed Ali picked a fight with Jerry Quarry in 1970 following his ban from boxing, Michael Schumacher drove a Mercedes around the tarmac of Bahrain to show the world there was speed yet in his racing boots, and Tiger has picked the venue of his first major triumph - the Augusta Masters - to rejoin the fray.

It was typical of the 14-time grand slam champion to skip warm-up tournaments and go straight to the first grand slam of the season - like all the names mentioned above, once the limelight of the big-time has been sampled, it is hard to get it from under your skin.

The move suggests life really can’t be that bad for Tiger Woods, in just under a month he has gone from publicly stating that he didn’t know when he would return to golf, to announcing his comeback - hardly the 43 months suffered by Ali for refusing the draft to Vietnam.

Instead of easing back into the game he is diving head first into a major championship - arguably the one everyone wants to win the most out of the four available in any given year.

Augusta is a highly-charged atmosphere even without the dynamite of a Tiger Woods return. So, is Tiger feeling mentally strong? Or was he never really weakened by the outcry over his affairs?

His rehabilitation, for whatever it is that he is suffering or been suffering, must be going remarkably well for the world number one to suddenly feel his personal life is in decent enough shape for a return to the game in such a fashion.

If that’s the case, it’s great news for Tiger and his family. Some professionals I know quite well have told me that Tiger and wife Elin have been playing tennis together.

But I, along with many others I have spoken to during my travels, have always felt his act of self-flagellation on February 19 was a plea for sympathy in order to rehabilitate his public image.

Just maybe the big speech too, as his playing agenda becomes clearer, was about making a return to The Masters less harrowing for him. Those in his camp would also want the crowd to be less aggressive towards him.

Funnily enough, just days after Tiger’s apology, his caddie Steve Williams spoke of his anger and sympathy for the boss while Tiger was back practicing with his coach Hank Haney.

In my view, Williams would not have spoken without the direct approval of the Tiger camp. The timing and tone of his comments were all part of the carefully stage-managed plan to get everyone ready for his return to The Masters.

Now, of course, there is nothing wrong with this, but I don't believe Tiger is fooling anyone with this all to transparent approach.

Looking forward to Augusta, I wonder if Tiger will hold a press conference at The Masters and allow questions about his return? The concept now seems laughable given the way Tiger and his team continue to go about their business.

But it would be nice to know how he is feeling about his game upon his return and whether he thinks he can win or not.

Whatever happens it will be great to watch Tiger’s first tee shot -– I suspect it will fly down the middle as if nothing’s ever changed or even happened.

That’s just the way Tiger would like it too, but the jury is out as to whether he can reclaim the adulation of the fans in the way that Ali did and Schumacher is attempting too.

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Filed under:  Golf
soundoff (46 Responses)
  1. Ron Tupper

    I like to watch Tiger play golf. His personal life is none of my bussines
    and it is none of your bussines

    March 16, 2010 at 7:18 pm | Reply
  2. Nathan

    Yes, Tiger can restore his game and most of his reputation, but his serious transgressions will always be with him. The golfing community will welcome him back and so will I. I believe Tiger has learned a valuable life lesson - he shot a triple-bogey in his life and is now ready to shoot par at least.

    March 16, 2010 at 7:52 pm | Reply
  3. Chris

    Actually, does anyone really care? It's just nice to see Ernie win again. Let's do like all golfers should do and keep our eye on the ball. Enough is made of this whole circus already. If other fans are like me, Tiger has no chance of winning us back. The damage is done, I'd rather watch soul golfers play.

    March 16, 2010 at 8:08 pm | Reply
  4. Frank

    Who cares?

    March 16, 2010 at 8:11 pm | Reply
  5. Tobias

    He is a legend in golf. I don't care about his private life. But now that I know, I do not have the respect for him as a person I once had. Respect on the golf course is something totally different than respect off the golf course. He has earned the first and lost the second.

    March 16, 2010 at 8:12 pm | Reply
  6. brian

    It will be great to see the greatest golfer back in the greatest game venue again. BUT I truly hope that his family is both supportive and understanding because, if Elin and others are not, they may cause more damage to Tiger's life which would be truly sad

    March 16, 2010 at 8:20 pm | Reply
  7. wingman

    Can Tiger restore his legend status?

    He may carry on winning tournaments but a 'legend' upholds all values within the tradition of the field.

    He does not.

    March 16, 2010 at 8:37 pm | Reply
  8. Dorothy Olive

    Tiger's game of golf is of interest to golf lovers. Tiger's game of loves should be of no interest to any of us–yet, we follow all of the sexual exploits of all of the many professional men who have fallen off of the rails. Perhaps more of us should take up the game of golf to help distract us.

    Good luck to you Tiger with both your golf and lovely family.

    March 16, 2010 at 8:46 pm | Reply
  9. Claudio

    Tiger is human. Let him play golf.

    March 16, 2010 at 9:05 pm | Reply
  10. Dennis Earnshaw

    Why is every apology by a celebrity automatically declared bogus and self serving? Give the guy a break, he probably won't be coming to your house for dinner, mine either come to think of it. The game of golf needs Tiger just as much as Tiger needs golf, maybe more. While it would be hard for anyone to condone adulterous behavior, we can forgive and allow a person to move on. Seems to me it is all between Tiger and his wife, lots of marriages have survived like behavior, judge him for his golf game, not something he would like to forget. Welcome back Tiger.

    March 16, 2010 at 9:18 pm | Reply
  11. Hauman

    He can and will restore his legend. He can regain what he has lost just by doing the right thing. People forgive, forget and its business as usual.

    March 16, 2010 at 9:31 pm | Reply
  12. catchme

    I will never watch golf again if that dirty tiger plays.

    March 16, 2010 at 9:35 pm | Reply
  13. indi

    Go Tiger! I will be back to watching golf again. Past is past. Focus on future. Ignore the Press. After all, Press needs to make a living too.

    March 16, 2010 at 9:37 pm | Reply
  14. dkmissie

    I wish people would not put athletes on a golden throne.They are human and they make mistakes.
    The difference in them and the regular folks is they have to live their mistakes out in the news,online etc

    March 16, 2010 at 10:01 pm | Reply
  15. David

    I welcome Tiger's return to professional golf, which obviously misses his aura.

    Like many others, I am sick of the speculation and whining of the sports press who resent his practice of holding his cards close to his vest.

    Mr. Armsden's "article" is filled with suppositions and speculation.

    March 16, 2010 at 10:16 pm | Reply
  16. sue anderson

    What is there to admire about a man who has everything in the world and yet cannot control his baser instincts? he got caught..........and I think that all of this fake acting about how sorry he is is just that.....fake. Personally, I hope he meets a chorus of 'boo's' on his return and loses. Aren't we getting sick and tired of excusing everyone who is breaking all of the moral laws? Where does it leave us/

    March 16, 2010 at 11:15 pm | Reply
  17. john franco

    Tiger earned his respect and popularity through his superb skill. If anything he owes us the public nothing, of his own volution he added generosity, caring and genuine kindness. It's great that he sets his own standard of righteousness. I'm thankful my generation was the one to watch as this young man continues to grow and take golf to as of yet unknown heights.

    March 16, 2010 at 11:32 pm | Reply
  18. Irish Sammy

    Tiger knew weeks ago when he would return. He is just being the controlling man that we now all know he is.
    He will get booded off the course in Walees at the Ryder Cup - ie if he is a man to play in it. To date he Has proven to be a wuss.
    No time for the guy anymore in spite of his golf greatness. - Classless - when you see his fathers running around, the apple had not far to fall from the tree.

    March 17, 2010 at 12:27 am | Reply
  19. Dale

    ...RIGHT.......Tiger Woods wants to be a role model, Anyone who throws his clubs around, Pumps his fist like a High School Football Player. He is a low life, immature loser and just not a nice person....................... But, the average American MALE today, who are losers also, he is their GOD...... Give me a break ..........................................

    March 17, 2010 at 12:27 am | Reply
  20. AMAZONIA

    Tiger Woods has already built his reputation as a legendary player. He is a solid product. However, can he restore his moral?

    March 17, 2010 at 12:56 am | Reply
  21. arjay

    Let him play his game. He's human. At least we now know.

    March 17, 2010 at 1:29 am | Reply
  22. jorgen friis

    I can only say – welcome back. The game needs him. Tiger has paid dearly for whatever transgressions he may have committed – and he has apologized. I think its great for golf that he has decided to return and I for one shall be looking forward to see him at the Masters. However, what may be of concern is his ability to ignore, or face up to, the many smart-alecks,hecklers and holier-than-thoes that undoubtedly will be
    present. It will be difficult for him but if he can block out all the hype that
    for sure will be present he should do well. There are strong signs that he and his family are straightening things out in which case, hopefully, we shall see Tiger surviving the cut-off and, who knows, go on to do well. I
    am sure the media will have another field day. Best of luck, Tiger

    March 17, 2010 at 1:37 am | Reply
  23. windy miller

    great golfer the best i wish him luck and great sucess good lick

    March 17, 2010 at 1:38 am | Reply
  24. Jayjay

    Tiger made a number of mistakes and all of your folks who have the audacity to judge him have obviously never transgressed in anything in your life.
    Let he who is without sin ... and all that.
    Give him a break. He may turn this into a positive in his life as I have turned so many negatives into positives in my own life.
    We can only wait and see. He has to find the way to fix this by himself and based on his golf ability he probably will find a way to make this all okay.
    For those of us who love golf and admire his golf skill we still want to see the greatest golfer of all time play the game and like many sports heroes before him attain the recognition he rightly deserves.

    March 17, 2010 at 1:41 am | Reply
  25. wiz

    Legend status?
    I'm not exactly sure what that entails. I do know this: I (like a lot of people on planet Earth) have been seriously impressed with his skills since he came onto the scene (and I don't even like golf...as a sport, I actually think it pretty much sucks!)
    As soon as he starts back to whuppin' ass, takin' names, dominating the scene (and the ESPN/SportsMachine highlight reels) we will STILL be impressed....and STILL not care about that other personal stuff

    March 17, 2010 at 2:36 am | Reply
  26. frank cantu (Vietnam Vet)

    this is more of a moral question then anything thing else...I don't sleep with him his wife does, and she made a decision and who am I to say other wise?

    March 17, 2010 at 2:47 am | Reply
  27. bill

    go get em tiger make your family and yourself proud go get em big guy

    March 17, 2010 at 2:57 am | Reply
  28. Frederick

    I have known and respected Tiger for his game on the course and not for his social ethics off the course. It's good to have him back.

    March 17, 2010 at 9:48 am | Reply
  29. Susan

    Tiger Woods has done nothing that millions of men have done, married or not, let the man play the game we all loved to watch him play! Get over it already!!! Good Luck Tiger, I hope you win, BIG time!

    March 17, 2010 at 1:06 pm | Reply
  30. Matt

    Tiger's escapades have left a bad taste in my mouth. I probably won't watch him like I used to.

    March 17, 2010 at 3:41 pm | Reply
  31. senior from texas

    tiger will be winning just as often as he has in the past;
    he will win the 2010 masters

    March 17, 2010 at 6:50 pm | Reply
  32. Janalou

    I have no respect for Tiger Woods anymore – nor the PGA for that matter. Why does John Daly get a 6 month suspension for "behaviour unbecoming to golf: and everyone is begging Tiger to come back? He is a very good golfer but he is so selfish – i.e. his golfing colleagues did not want him to speak out on the 19th during the tournament nor do they want him to come back during the Masters – Tim Finchem needs to be sacked. Being a good golfer does not trump integrity.

    March 17, 2010 at 7:35 pm | Reply
  33. JLK

    What Legend? After his fiasco, he is the worst role model the PGA could ask for. He's no Palmer, Nicklaus, Hogan, Nelson, or Jones! He can win a 100 majors, but he's cowpie in my books!

    March 17, 2010 at 9:27 pm | Reply
  34. Steven Ng

    Tiger welcome back , we miss your performance, go for the legend titile, Best of luck to you and your family.
    You must proof to the world that you are model of your good self towards your family. Win the Master for your Wife and Family

    March 17, 2010 at 10:59 pm | Reply
  35. john

    Tiger is human? Of course by this you mean in the lowest sense of the word. Lying, infidelity, copious over consumption of sex and probably everything including homes and cars and boats. And not to mention the fractured, ignominious role model he bequeaths his children that will forever touch their lives. Yeah right, he's human – that's what you mean. So let's just forget about it and play golf. Right.

    March 18, 2010 at 3:16 pm | Reply
  36. Sam Shade

    What's done is done.Time to learn from mistakes and move on.

    March 18, 2010 at 9:03 pm | Reply
  37. Chris

    Yes, this all will be forgotten in time. Time heals everything. If he starts to win again he will be soon become the legend again.
    And c'mon guys. We all need a hero. Ok it is a hero with a mistake but who else did step up after HE stepped down??
    So lets us have our hero back eventhough a bit tarnished.

    March 19, 2010 at 4:27 pm | Reply
  38. Rudy

    Tiger!

    Welcome back and good the way you are handling your private business by keeping the nose folks out!

    I want to see you take the Trophy next MONTH!

    Your private life is your business and I hope you keep it that way from the reporters!

    Am 1000% for ya!!!

    March 21, 2010 at 12:12 am | Reply
  39. Bill

    I am neither pro-Tiger or anti-Tiger; my own inadequacies as a golfer certainly make me impressed with him on the course and it is good to see someone do the things we could only dream of out there. But I am disappointed in his infidelities and how he has brought dishonor on himself and his late father's legacy of values to follow in life. But to tell you the truth, it's really none of my business. And neither is it anyone else's except for his wife and family. The acid test will be how Tiger handles the inevitable catcalls and heckling that are certain to taunt him everywhere he plays for a considerable time. Sadly, there are enough low-class morons who attend golf tournaments, overindulge in alcohol, and churlishly display their crass behavior in some weird wish to be seen and heard on international TV. These kinds of spectators are far worse men than Tiger will ever be and do irreparable damage to the game of golf as a gentlemenly (or ladylike) endeavor.

    March 21, 2010 at 1:06 pm | Reply
  40. Dr. S.T. Goh

    All said it's a personal affair and his personal life !

    March 28, 2010 at 3:17 am | Reply
  41. KB

    I can see people being given a second chance...but this so called role model has gone way over the line. I have lost count and am sure that several chose not to come forward as they have lives and relationships to protect. He may be a great golfer, but he's a pathetic loser.

    March 28, 2010 at 7:54 pm | Reply
  42. Zina

    Why is this still news????

    April 4, 2010 at 3:26 pm | Reply
  43. pillayan

    If he is not a human if he does not make mistakes,still he is a great golfer,god bless tiger.

    April 4, 2010 at 8:24 pm | Reply
  44. JLP61

    Tiger is a great golfer. Period. I don't know why people and the press keep on looking at his dirty linen and exposing these to the world. Maybe they're seeing their own imperfections. I never follow golf, but I just admire Tiger for his game, not for anything else. Each person is as perfect as a broken nose.

    April 5, 2010 at 12:35 pm | Reply
  45. reita lucky

    I believe that Tiger made a mistake just like every other human being that God created. He has admitted his mistake and it takes a real man to admit that he has done wrong. If his wife can forgive him then I believe the public should not be his judge! We are only to be judged by God, not man. I know of men and women in the public eye who have done wrong and all is forgotten. Remember Bill C.? All that has been forgotten and Bill will know if he has been forbiven when he takes his last breath. Let Tiger play golf and leave he and his family alone.

    April 5, 2010 at 6:15 pm | Reply
  46. Diamond Jim

    Just wanted to know if the big cry baby TIGER had to have 90 paid bodyguards for a controlled enviorment how many does he have for this match??? and how many of them will be armed????Also am wondering if he has cleaned up his mouth for this round???or will we hear the same old excuse no one is perfect???

    April 28, 2010 at 1:53 pm | Reply

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