Thursday, April 8, 2010

Tiger Woods cheered and applauded by fans as he makes golfing return at the U.S. Masters
By Daily Mail Reporter

Shamed golfer Tiger Woods was watched by over 1,000 people as he made his golfing return today

Tiger Woods has been cheered and applauded by fans after making his return to the golf circuit following a five-month absence.

The sportsman waved to the crowd as he walked confidently onto the golf course for the U.S. Masters in Augusta, Georgia, wearing a Nike striped t-shirt and a navy blue baseball cap.

All eyes were on the shamed golfer, who was making his first official appearance since revelations of his numerous extra-marital affairs first emerged last November, who finished two shots off the lead at four under par after an impressive first round.

Tiger waves to the gallery on the first tee during the first round of the Masters

Tiger had said previously he was 'nervous' about the reception he would receive, adding: 'It would be nice to hear a couple claps here and there!'

But today he said: 'All day the crowd reaction was unbelievable. I haven't heard the people cheer that loud in all my years here and it really helped, especially when you're missing a few putts.

'I took the practice very seriously, I was trying really hard for weeks on end. I wouldn't say I was more aggressive, but the golf course was a little bit more there to be had today, the tees were up.

'I just tried to stay focused and keep plodding along, try not to give any shots away. I would think a couple under par would have been a very good start.'

Bookmakers have made Tiger the 5 to 1 favourite to win his fifth Masters green jacket.

Tiger Woods looked confident as he teed off at the Masters tournament this evening

Tiger with fellow golfer Matt Kucher at the Masters in Augusta, Georgia

Scottish golfer Sam Torrance, who was corresponding on Tiger's comeback on BBC News, said: 'I don't think I have ever seen a crowd like that on the first day. He's great Tiger, and we want him out there playing, showing us what he can do.'

The only interruption for Tiger came when an aeroplane flew over the course pulling a banner reading 'Tiger: Did you mean bootyism?' - a reference to Woods' claim that part of the reason for his troubles was that he left his faith, Buddhism.

Some people in the stands laughed and pulled out binoculars to get a closer look.

Later, another banner said: 'Sex Addict? Yeah. Right. Sure. Me, Too.'

The crowd of spectators watch intently as Tiger takes his first shot

Tiger gets instructions from caddie Steve Williams before teeing off

Tiger's comeback has also been criticised by Augusta National chairman Billy Payne, one of golf's leading officials, who condemned the sportsman for the double life he was leading.

'It is simply not the degree of his conduct that is so egregious here,' Mr Payne said in a surprisingly frank dressing-down of Tiger at the annual state of the Masters news conference yesterday.

'It is the fact that he disappointed all of us, and more importantly, our kids and our grandkids. Our hero did not live up to the expectations of the role model we saw for our children.

Tiger's golfing comeback was uninterrupted apart from a small plane flying over the course with this banner attached

Tiger tips his cap to the crowd as he walks up the 18th green

'Is there a way forward? I hope yes. But certainly, his future will never again be measured only by his performance against par, but measured by the sincerity of his efforts to change.'

And Mr Payne isn't the only person to be against Tiger's return to the golf course.

His wife Elin, who has not been seen with her husband since allegations first broke of his affairs in November, is said to have refused to attend the Masters tournament because she is furious that Tiger has decided to make his comeback so quickly after the controversy surrounding their marriage.

Tiger's wife Elin Nordegren is said to have refused to attend the Masters because she is angry the sportsman is returning to golf so soon

A source told U.S. gossip website 'There’s a reason why Elin didn’t go to the tournament and it’s simple.

'She thinks he’s breaking his promise to her by returning to golf so soon. And as every day goes by she gets a little angrier.

'Not only did she refuse his request

Creepy: Shamed golfer Tiger Woods listens to his late father speaking to him from beyond the grave in a bizarre new Nike advert

The wheels were set in motion for Tiger's comeback yesterday, when Nike released a an advert featuring the voice of the sportsman's late father Earl.

In the television ad, shot recently at Tiger's home course in Florida, the shamed golfer listens to Earl asking questions apparently about his return to golf following his sex scandal.

'Tiger, I am more prone to be inquisitive, to promote discussion. I want to find out what your thinking was. I want to find out what your feelings are. And did you learn anything,' Earl says as the camera slowly zooms in on Tiger.

Filmed in black and white, the advert has the bizarre quality of a dream. Tiger appears upset, and the slow zooming of the camera is punctuated with flashes of light - hinting at the frantic clicking of the media's cameras.

The 30-second spot aired on the Golf Channel and ESPN yesterday and was to run until shortly after the star tees-off this evening.

A Nike spokesman said the new commercial portrays the ongoing influence Earl has on his son's life.

'We support Tiger and his family as he returns to competitive golf,' Derek Kent said.

'The ad addresses his time away from the game using the powerful words of his father.'

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