124th U.S. Open

Pinehurst No. 2

The Loop

Woods makes stealth visit to Augusta

March 23, 2010

ORLANDO, Fla.  -- A day after answering questions for the first time since his life unraveled in a sex scandal, Tiger Woods answered the wake-up call of his return to competitive golf. In a move that makes total sense, Woods left Isleworth early Monday morning, flew to Augusta, and began serious preparations for the 2010 Masters. While the morning news shows were running clips of his interviews with ESPN and the Golf Channel, and with the Tavistock Cup going on at his home community, Woods ducked out of Orlando before dawn and got in 36 holes followed by a lengthy short-game session. The four-time Masters champion planned a similar program Tuesday before returning home, just after the Tavistock Cup is completed.

Woods has not played a competitive round since winning the Australian Masters on Nov. 15, 2009, skipping Tavistock and this week's Arnold Palmer Invitational because of a late start to his preparation. In his interview with Golf Channel, Woods' voice perked up when asked by Kelly Tilghman if he would be mentally prepared for Augusta. "I'm excited to get back and play," Woods said. "I miss the game. I miss playing, I miss competing." Woods concluded by saying that he is starting to get his feel back. As for Augusta, he has not won since 2005 but has not finished worse than last year¹s backdoor T-6. "I know how to play the golf course and that helps a lot," Woods said. "I've just got to play it."

-- Tim Rosaforte