Sheila C. Johnson, who owns Innisbrook Resort, home of the Transitions, and sits on the board of the Tiger Woods Foundation, was also talking economics as it relates to Woods. "One thing that we're going to learn from the whole Tiger episode is that the PGA Tour has built its entire house around one player," Johnson said last week. "Tiger could have dropped dead on us. There's more than one star out there. Everybody's ego has to be stroked, and it's important that we need to start looking at this a little differently. Tiger really pulled the plug, and everything deflated. Everybody went into a reactive mode rather than trying to say, Let's look at why we're in this slump and why we're losing sponsors."
Woods's return to the Masters will most likely provide him with cover from the tabloid press (media credentialing closed weeks ago) and negative fan behavior (an Augusta National spokesman said that the club expected that decorum and civility would still be in place and that its patrons are the most respectful in sports), but eventually he will not be afforded that cocoon. Even before Woods announced that he was coming back at the Masters, the Tour was calling several of its tournaments to go over the logistics of a potential Woods return. Among the issues discussed were the expansion of media facilities, the deployment of additional Tour personnel and media credentialing. Concerning credentials, media that regularly cover golf would be given priority, followed by mainstream news services. "The people who would fall third would be the nontraditional media, who wouldn't be credentialed," says Ty Votaw, the Tour's executive vice president for communications and international affairs. "That's not going to prevent them from buying a ticket and getting on-site, but that will prevent them from getting into the media center."
Kym Hougham, tournament director of the Quail Hollow Championship, which is played from April 29 to May 2 and is a likely next stop for Woods, says a plan is in place at the Charlotte golf club to handle a Woods appearance but that he does not think Woods's second start will be as dramatic as his first.
"I don't know what I would compare [Woods's return] to," Hougham says. "It's like his coming back, mentally, from when his father passed away, but I don't pretend to know what's going on there."
No one does. Everything involving Woods is conjecture. Tommy Roy, the executive producer for golf at NBC, says Woods's return would transcend the sport, while Sean McManus, the president of CBS News and Sports, predicts that TV ratings for the Masters will be comparable to those for the inauguration of President Obama.
The quality of Woods's golf, after a scandal unlike any other, is anyone's guess.
Now on GOLF.com
For insights and opinions from SI Golf Group writers, go to GOLF.com/confidential
GOLF.COM • SIGOLFNATION.COM