[to top of second column]
Most players expect Woods to be heckled, although not as much -- if any -- at the Masters.
"That's why Augusta makes such good sense," Furyk said. "There's less of that than anywhere else. Everyone is afraid to lose their ticket. The etiquette and behavior is far better than anywhere else because of the fear factor."
Still to be determined is the state of his game.
Woods left for a Mississippi clinic for therapy on Dec. 31 -- the day after his 34th birthday -- and returned Feb. 11 to prepare for his first public appearance at the TPC Sawgrass when he apologized for his behavior and confessed to extramarital affairs. He took no questions.
He spent another week in Arizona for family therapy, returning Feb. 27 and heading to the practice range to get back into a routine. His coach, Hank Haney, was with him at Isleworth last week.
There had been reports he would play the Tavistock Cup exhibition next week in Orlando, followed by the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill, where he is the defending champion and a six-time winner.
"When I finally got into a position to think about competitive golf again, it became apparent to me that the Masters would be the earliest I could play," Woods said.
Woods twice has gone to a major without having competed after a long layoff -- nine weeks. He missed the cut at Winged Foot for the 2006 U.S. Open after his father died, and he won the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines while playing on a shattered left knee that kept him out the rest of the year.
"It's obviously great for golf that he's back," three-time major champion Padraig Harrington said. "It shows the commitment he has to his family. If he came back earlier, that would give him a better chance at Augusta. He would have been putting golf first. Putting his family first by not warming up for Augusta, it's a good statement."
Woods has been the biggest draw at the Masters since that victory in 1997. That likely won't compare to this year.
His world came crashing down Nov. 27 when he fled his house in the middle of the night, an incident still filled with questions that Woods might never answer: Where was he going? What caused him to hit the tree? What injuries sent him to the hospital? And how could the world's most famous athlete keep secret so many affairs?
Woods lost three corporate sponsors -- Accenture, AT&T and Gatorade -- and became the butt of jokes nationally, from TV talk shows to Disney stage productions.
This will be the first time Woods has missed Bay Hill as a professional, the only regular PGA Tour event he has played every year. Palmer told The Golf Channel that Woods called to apologize for not being there.
"He sounded good. He had some zip in his voice," Palmer said. "He knows what he wants to do with his life and the way he's going to handle it, and I guess we're going to give him that respect. I would think for Tiger it's going to be tough. It's going to be something that's going to take him a little time to get used to."
Palmer said Woods told him he didn't feel his game "was up to speed to start playing this early."
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
< Sports index
Back to top
News | Sports | Business | Rural Review | Teaching & Learning | Home and Family | Tourism | Obituaries
Law & Courts |
Spiritual Life |
Health & Fitness |
Calendar | Letters to the Editor