Tiger takes Masters spotlight but green jacket up for grabs | india | Hindustan Times
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Tiger takes Masters spotlight but green jacket up for grabs

india Updated: Apr 07, 2010 11:41 IST

Tiger Woods makes his competitive comeback after a shocking sex scandal in tomorrow's first round of the Masters with 95 rivals trying to deny the world's number one golfer a 15th major title.

Global attention will be riveted upon television coverage of Woods on the first tee at Augusta National Golf Club at 1:42 in the afternoon on Thursday when the humbled sports hero returns to action.

"That first tee, I'm looking forward to it," Woods said. "I haven't looked forward to that tee shot in a long time, not like this. It feels fun again. That's something that has been missing."

Woods has admitted an adultery scandal that has seen more than a dozen women claim sexual relationships with the married father of two, destroying the squeaky-clean image that made Woods the world's first billion-dollar sportsman.

But Woods has been warmly received in two days of practice rounds at Augusta National and opened himself to questions for the first time yesterday since the tabloid firestorm overtook him.

"Have I been winning? Have I been doing well? Yeah, but I wasn't having anywhere near the amount of fun," Woods said. "When you live a life where you are lying all the time, life is not fun. That's where I was.

"Now that has been stripped all away and here I am. It feels fun again."

Woods is trying to duplicate a feat achieved only by Ben Hogan in 1951 and 1953 by winning the Masters as his season debut, but he has been a favorite among oddsmakers within minutes of announcing he would return at the Masters.

"I think he's favored to win the tournament. I would not be surprised at all," said Irishman Padraig Harrington, a three-time major champion.

"No matter how he looks or what he comes up and says, you don't know how this is affecting him inside and how it's affecting his golf. I would not be surprised if he is contending and if he played better golf than ever.

"But there's obviously a doubt to that and we will only be able to find that out on Sunday evening."

Few doubt he can make a triumphant return for a fifth green jacket, the symbol of Masters supremacy.

"I expect his game to be sharp," three-time major champion Phil Mickelson said. "This is a golf course he has won on four times and loves as much as I do and plays it as well as anybody ever has in the history of the game.

"This is a place that I think a lot of people know that he can win on and it's going to take a good performance to beat him.