INDIAN WELLS, California (Reuters) - Scandal-hit Tiger Woods is apprehensive about the reception he will get from the fans at next month’s U.S. Masters when he returns to the PGA Tour from self-imposed exile.
The American world number one has not competed since his victory at the Australian Masters on November 15, following his stunning fall from grace amid tawdry revelations about his extra-marital affairs.
Last week, however, Woods announced he would be making his comeback at the April 8-11 Masters, the opening major of the year and an event he has won four times before at one of his favorite venues.
“I don’t know. I‘m a little nervous about that to be honest with you,” he said on Sunday about his return to the genteel surrounds of Augusta National where media numbers and the allocation of tickets for spectators are tightly controlled.
”It would be nice to hear a couple of claps here and there. But I also hope they clap for birdies, too.
”Playing is one thing,“ added Woods, who finally faced questions from the media in two five-minute interviews with the Golf Channel and ESPN. ”I‘m excited to get back and play.
”I‘m excited to get to see the guys again. I really miss a lot of my friends out there. I miss competing.
“But I still have a lot more treatment to do and just because I‘m playing, doesn’t mean I‘m gonna stop going to treatment. I will have more treatment, more therapy sessions.”
Woods, who has been trying to salvage his marriage to his Swedish wife Elin, said his playing schedule for the rest of this year remained uncertain.
“I don’t know what I‘m going to do,” added the 14-times major champion who was sidelined for eight months until last February while recovering from reconstructive knee surgery.
”Last year I didn’t know because of my knee; it was still uncertain. And this year, with all the things that I’ve done I don’t know what I’ll be doing either.
“That to me is a little bit bothersome, too, in a sense that I don’t like not knowing what to do, but what I know I have to do is become a better person and that begins with going to more treatment.”
Woods, who became engulfed in a media frenzy following a bizarre early-morning car crash outside his Florida home on November 27, said he had not been ready to return to the PGA Tour any earlier than the Masters.
Earlier this month, there had been widespread speculation he would come back for next week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational or the private Tavistock Cup, both near his home in Orlando.
”I wasn’t ready to play in Tavistock or play in Bay Hill,“ Woods said. ”I started too late with my preparation. (Coach) Hank (Haney) and I are starting to work now and start to get it going.
“I‘m starting to get my feel back. I know how to play the golf course and that helps a lot,” he added referring to Augusta National. “I just got to play it.”
Editing by Greg Stutchbury; To query or comment on this story email firstname.lastname@example.org