Of the 60 Masters Tournaments that I have watched, I can honestly say that I always expect the next one to crown all the glory of them all. This one, coming up, has an element that no previous Masters has ever weathered. Tiger Woods comes forth after four months of self-induced suspension, and while many cheer his return, I am positive that those gentlemen in green jackets would that he just as soon have chosen another venue.
I say that with no authority, probably reflecting mainly my own preference. Woods will greet the press—a term most of us of the print media cheerfully accept—at his first public examination since that disastrous midnight of Thanksgiving Week. (That recital at Sawgrass is dismissed as simply that—a one-person performance.) I will not be there, by my own choice. I prefer to watch the Braves open the baseball season against the Cubs—and I do have high expectations for the home team this year.
To be honest, I have no predilection of what’s to expect of this exchange. I understand that applications for admission to the Monday afternoon press conference have been overwhelming.
I do hope that admission will be limited to those who cover the Masters customarily, not the sordid lot that deal in scandal—such as the crowd that showed up for the Martha Burk charade. You’ll recall that Ms. Burk was remanded to a parking lot across Washington Road to address her cares and woes. I’m also positive that her intrusion had a hastening effect on Hootie Johnson’s early retirement from the chairmanship. Again, just my personal opinion.
Woods holds every privilege accorded to previous Masters champions. His right to be there is unquestioned, but it does bother some of us who have steadily covered the event all these many years. It makes me nervous, and the nerves are more easily twanged as age piles up.
I would not expect him to win again. Golfing professionals do not charge back out of sustained absences at the top of their game. Simply doesn’t add up even in the case of Tiger. I’ll find much more pleasure watching Arnie and Jack doing the ceremonial tee shots than any other part of the week.
If this offends anyone out there, I am sorry. But this is the Masters, not just a golf tournament, not a circus, not a public inspection of a man trying to live down his personal disgrace.