by Jeff Skinner
The countdown to Tiger’s return at The Masters continues and while most people in and out of the golf industry have opinions on everything Tiger few have the perspective of Tiger’s friend Notay Begay. Tiger’s old college buddy and close friend gave Brian Wacker of PGATour.com some insights to Tiger’s state of mind.
Begay is close to Woods and was one of the few friends that attended “Tiger’s Apology” last month. He thinks that Augusta is the right fit for Tigers return but acknowledges that it could detract from the season’s first major. “The one downside is I hope the hype and media attention doesn’t take away from the fact that it is a major championship, that it doesn’t take away from the other players that week.”
Begay is one of the few of Tiger’s inner circle that actually talks to the press about Tiger. Granted, he knows what he can say and not threaten his standing with Tiger so he’ll never say anything that Tiger would disapprove of but he can give a perspective that few have. “Being the competitor he is, Tiger is trying to create the best situation to make his way back and to compete. From a security standpoint, there’s probably not a better place in the world to play golf.”
Tiger’s decision to return at Augusta has given us all a new topic for debate: is it good or bad for The Masters? There will be no discernable difference on the course for Tiger. There will be the same number of fans on the grounds and these “patrons” are the most respectful in golf. There will be no heckling or bad behavior. The boys at Augusta won’t tolerate any uncivil behavior from anyone and those that do will be dealt with quickly by all the extra security covering the biggest sports event in recent memory. The difference Tiger will see will come in the media center when the press gets to question him. Surely there will be the prying, personal questions and surely there will be the rehearsed response that Tiger and his team of handlers are working on at this moment. My money is on the “I’m not answering questions on my personal life, next” response to any thing aimed at the personal Tiger. The overlords of The Masters will even keep a tight lease on the men of the media so Tiger couldn’t have selected a more hospitable venue for his return. Woods and his team made the right choice here, the right choice for Tiger.
Whether or not it’s the right choice for The Masters is debatable. Golf professionals and fans alike relish each of the four majors. There is nothing like the majors but Tiger’s return here brings an unusual feeling to this one. It will be equal parts circus and golf and it certainly will be a different Masters.
It is said that no one player is bigger than the game of golf but for the week of The Masters when Tiger returns he’ll definitely be bigger than The Masters and that’s a shame.