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What they're saying about Tiger Woods' return

PALM HARBOR, Fla. -- The news that Tiger Woods plans to return at the Masters next month was not surprisingly a popular topic among players at the Transitions Championship. Here's a sampling of what they said:

Zach Johnson: It's news to me. I'm glad he's coming back this year. That wasn't a guarantee to me. He knows his game better than anybody. He knows his practice. He knows if he's prepared. The fact he's won four green jackets, I think he knows what he's doing.

Padraig Harrington: It makes sense to me that he's doing it at Augusta because he's putting his family first. It demonstrates that. And the Masters is a safe place to come back in terms of galleries, etc. If he came back earlier, would have been important for his golf, but you can tell where his priorities are.

Rocco Mediate: I lost a bet. I thought he might sneak back in at Bay Hill. The fact that it's two weeks later doesn't surprise me because Augusta is the safest place. They can control the crowds, etc. It's going to be tough on him. There will be some stupid things said. They will be removed. But there will be some dumb things said. If anyone can cut through that stuff, it will be him. It's going to be tough, but also good for him. Would an unfair expectation be for him to win the Masters? No. Probably going to be harder than normal because he hasn't played in a while. But I don't think he's going to be out there saying, "Gee, where's my ball gonna go?" When he won the first year, he shot 40 on the front nine [on Thursday] in '97. So that's a bad start.

Sean O'Hair: Good to have him back. It wasn't better without him, that's for sure. I was thinking if he was going to play the Masters, he would also play Bay Hill. But I have no doubt he'll be ready.

Parker McLachlin: I think when Tiger is playing, it always feels like there's a little more excitement in the air. I think him coming back, it's exciting for competitive golf. We're all excited to have him back. It's hard to be in his world right now and to know what's really going on. From the outside, it's easy to think. "Why he wouldn't play Bay Hill as a warm-up?" But we really don't know what's going on inside of his world. Hopefully it's the right choice for him coming back.

Corey Pavin: I think it's great he's coming back. Golf misses him for sure. I've said his timetable should be his timetable with his personal life. Whenever he was ready to come back and play golf, and get whatever he needed in order, that's when it would be time for him to come back.

As captain of the Ryder Cup team, I think it would be an asset to have him on the team....he said tongue in cheek.

Fred Funk: I would say normally, 99.9 percent of the guys would need a tuneup before they played Augusta. But Tiger's Tiger. He defies imagination, odds, he does things nobody else can do.

Jim Furyk: It was gonna happen, it was just a matter of when. I think we're all looking forward to business as usual and getting back to normal. It will take at least a few weeks and maybe a few months for that. We'll see. I'm looking forward to not having to talk about it anymore.

Nick Watney: At the end of the day, that's what he does. He plays golf. If he worked at Target or something, he'd go back to work. People who are his friends need to remain his friends and I'm looking forward to him coming back.

-- Ron Kaspriske


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