Players Welcome Tiger Woods Back At The Masters

April 6th, 2010-  By Bryan Cross

Upon arriving at Augusta, Tiger Woods admitted that he was nervous and unsure of what to expect from the patrons at the 2010 Masters.

“I didn’t know what to expect,” Woods said after his practice round on Monday. “The galleries couldn’t be nicer. The encouragement I got — it blew me away. The people here over the years, I know they are extremely respectful, but today was just something that really touched my heart pretty good.”

Following a four-month long, self-imposed hiatus from the game due to a sex scandal and multiple acts of infidelity, Woods decided to make his return this week at the Masters.

Woods took to the course on Monday morning in a practice round with Fred Couples, who has played with Woods several times over the years at Augusta during Monday and Tuesday.

“It was awesome,” Couples said after the practice round. “We had a good time. He was excited to be out there. He really was. His face lit up.”

On the back-nine, the pair was joined by Jim Furyk, who played the final six holes with Couples and Woods.

The patrons at the Augusta National grounds were very warm and receptive of Woods, who admitted that he had not been as open with fans in the past.

“I haven’t done that in the past few years, and that was wrong of me,” Woods remarked. “I’m just trying to be more respectful of the game.”

“I’m actually going to try and obviously not get as hot when I play. But then again, when I’m not as hot, I’m not going to be as exuberant, either.”

Woods also commented on his fellow PGA Tours peers, to which he expressed gratitude and admiration for the way that they have conducted themselves through his ordeal, with having to answer question after question regarding his situation.

“I think we all have to be patient and answer the questions,” Furyk said after the practice round. “No one really wants to talk about his game, but we have to.”

Woods played a practice round on Tuesday with long-time friend Mark O’Meara and Steve Stricker.

“Once he’s inside the ropes, he’s fine,” said longtime friend Mark O’Meara, who played nine holes with Woods on Sunday. “He just needs to get back into playing mode again. It’s been a long time since he’s competed.”

Couples said that Woods’ wasn’t quite sharp on the golf course, but that it was only Monday, and by Thursday he believes the games’ top-ranked player will be ready to compete and try to capture his fifth career green jacket.

Woods has been installed as the betting favorite to win the 2010 Masters, going off at 4/1.

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