Masters Most Likely, But Woods Will Make Final Decision, Sources Say
By JOHN BERMAN
March 12, 2010—
Tiger Woods is likely to make his return to golf during the Masters Tournament in Augusta, Ga., next month, sources say, but they insist Woods has not made his final decision yet.
Woods has won the Masters four times, but should be return the spotlight would be even brighter.
The golfer has been practicing with his swing coach Hank Haney. But playing Augusta would mean returning after a nearly five month break. Woods has not played competitive golf since Nov. 15, when he won the Australian Masters.
"Anything that could go wrong would certainly be exaggerated for somebody who's been away for five months, even the great Tiger Woods," Christine Brennan, USA Today sports columnist and ABC News contributor, said.
The Masters, which begins April 8, is the most prestigious major and it is also the most tightly controlled. The tournament makes the final decision on every reporter who wants access, which could help Woods avoid questions about his marriage.
The New York Post reported that Woods hired former Bush administration spokesman Ari Fleischer to help repair his image.
When asked by ABC News, Fleischer refused to confirm or deny he was working with Woods.
Fleischer helped former baseball player Mark McGwire choreograph his return to baseball, including finally admitting that he used steroids.
During his public apology last month Woods said he does "plan to return to golf one day. I just don't know when that day will be."
"I don't rule out that it will be this year. When I do return, I need to make my behavior more respectful of the game," Woods said.
Tiger Woods' Caddie Speaks Out
One person who said he is eager to see Woods out on the golf course again is his caddie, Steve Williams.
"Obviously at some point in time I'll have a conversation with him, but right now is not that point in time. I'm fully supportive of him and I'd like to see him get back playing on the PGA tour. So that's my role right now," Williams said in an interview with New Zealand's TV3.
"Tiger's biggest asset is his mental strength and he'll need all his mental strength to get over this, no question about it," Williams said.
Williams told TV3 that he would never walk away from his "true friend" because you don't leave when someone needs you.
"I stand by Tiger as a friend. When I talk to him, I don't talk to him about what's happened. I talk about the future and what we are going to try and accomplish and how we're going to get over it. So, I think life is a case of, you're going to bounce from your mistakes and be a better person. So, let's hope that we can do that," Williams said.