Tiger Woods Tuesday announced his much-anticipated return to the professional golf circuit, saying he'd hit the links at this year's Masters, where he became the tournament's youngest-ever champion back in 1997.
Woods' return sent waves through the golf community -- some experts call his comeback plan "masterful" while others say the scandal-ridden adulterer is back on the green too soon.
Woods' bid to repeat at the Masters could be premature, John Paul Newport writes for the Wall Street Journal. The former PGA champ hasn't played with the pros in months and is burdened with pressure to win on the Augusta course, according to Newport, factors that could add up to a serious challenge for Woods. "Any way you look at it, April 9 may be Mr. Woods's toughest round ever," Newport writes.
At best, Woods' decision is a risky move, Laurent Belsie writes for the Christian Science Monitor. Had he chosen to tee off in a tourney like the Bay Hill Invitational or another, lower-stakes competition, Woods could've shrugged off blips and gotten his confidence back, Belsie writes: but "at Augusta, it's all on the line."
The risks are there -- but the benefits of Masters play far outweigh the harms for Woods, Sports Illustrated writer Joe Posnanski writes for Golf.com. At the Masters, Woods not only has a chance of winning but of winning big, moving toward breaking Jack Nicklaus' 18-win major record on golf's biggest stage, a stage that saw Woods' first major victory and later, his biggest triumphs. "The reality is that if there was any way for Tiger Woods to play Augusta, he was going to play Augusta," Posnanski writes.
Augusta's tightly controlled environment is ideal for Woods, who won't be faced with aggressive fans or tabloid paparazzi on the high-security course, Tim Cowlishaw writes for the Dallas Morning News. Woods also has a chance at the Masters to turn media attention away from his personal life and back onto his game, according to Cowlishaw. "While Woods will be the biggest story there -- he's always that to begin with -- his return eventually evolves over a 4-day period into a story of who wins the green jacket," he argues.
It won't just be Woods who could win big at the Masters -- the other golfers on the tour, the PGA, and TV networks will cash in, too, Steve Rosenbloom blogs for the Chicago Tribune. Woods' return was bound to happen, Rosenbloom writes, and has been blown out of proportion by a hyped-up media: the real winners, he argues, are Woods' peers. "The only people who should be breathless or screaming joyously at the news are other golfers," he writes, "because without Woods, the PGA Tour is curling without the drama."