After weeks of speculation, Tiger Woods has finally announced that he will play in the 2010 Masters and that it will be his first tournament since November 15. When the Masters begins on April 8, it will have been almost five months since Woods has participated in a professional golf tournament.
I won't hide it, I'm a huge Tiger fan and have been since he won the 1997 Masters. He's the main reason why I was interested in golf in the first place and I know I'm not the only one. I don't want to defend his actions, everyone knows what happened and you've made your own judgment.
The one thing that no one can argue with, however, is what Tiger Woods has done for the game of golf. After the 2008 U.S. Open, Woods had knee surgery and did not play for the rest of the season. The TV Ratings for the final major tournament of the year, the 2008 PGA Championship, were down 55% from the year before when Tiger Woods won. The ratings were down about 40% in other tournaments (except the British Open which was only 11%) that Woods missed in the 2008 season.
Every major tournament, the media always tried to hype the battle between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. The media loves match-ups with two stars facing each other but let's be honest, everyone is well-behind Tiger. Since 2005, he has participated in 18 major tournaments; he has placed in the top ten in 15 of them, in the top five in 13 of them and has won 6 of them. Over the same period of time, Mickelson has participated in 19 major tournaments and has only 8 top ten's, 6 top five's and 2 wins. Basically Tiger's chances of winning a major are better than Mickelson's chances of finishing in the top five.
Despite all the time off, Tiger Woods is still the favourite to win the Masters and how can you really argue with that? Sure he hasn't played in a professional tournament since November but it's not like he hasn't played golf at all. Sure the media attention will be all on him but isn't it always on him? The pressure will be extremely high on Tiger as he knows that the best way for people to forget about the events of the past few months is to win a golf tournament.