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At least one golf fan was happy to have Tiger back

 

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Have all the opinions you want about Tiger woods — chances are most of them are for good reason. But make no mistake, even with Phil Mickelson's emotional win on Sunday at the Masters, there's no doubt things would have been different if Tiger hadn't been there, all decked out in red, fluctuating up and down the leader board. In this golf hack's opinion, Sunday at Augusta was back to what it's supposed to be, and a large part of that is because Tiger was there — and he wasn't just there to be there, he was doing his thing. I've stayed silent on the Tiger Woods' debacle, mainly because the winter provides plenty of things to write about, and the whole tabloid j o u r n a l i s m , slamming someone in black and white print because I think they deserve it thing just isn't my style. And when it comes to golf, I'm a Tiger Woods fan and I'm proud of it. And while I didn't get to watch a lot of the Masters live this weekend — again, more important things to do — I did learn one thing from this weekend's show at Augusta — I'm still a Tiger fan and I'm still proud of it. That doesn't mean I don't have a problem with how he chose to live his personal life because in many respects I do. It doesn't mean, as a fan, I didn't feel let down by him when I learned of his so-called "secret life" because I did. But I guess I'm a less complex sports fan than I should be because when it comes to who I want to see on the golf course, the things Tiger did in his personal life just don't matter that much to me. Mainly because it's his life, and quite frankly, he has the right to screw it up if he wants too, no matter how much money Nike or Gatorade was paying him, no matter how many commercials he does and no matter how much tickets to golf tournaments cost these days. Last time I checked, he's a human being, at least outside the ropes, and I haven't met a human being yet who hasn't made a mistake. And the type of mistakes Tiger made, all be them big and damaging to his family, just didn't take away from the fact I enjoy watching him play golf. And I think most true golf fans, who already were divided on loving Tiger or hating him before his scandal broke anyway, would agree with that. And the fact he's back is why the 2010 Masters was more than special. Tiger played well, but not nearly well enough to best a great Sunday leader board. But don't think for one second those guys (Mickelson, Lee Westwood, K.J. Choi and Anthony Kim) didn't step their game up and take it to another level because Tiger was back, stalking the famed Green Jacket. In the weeks leading up to the Masters, after Tiger announced he was going to play, all the talk around the driving range centered around tour players being excited about having Tiger back with them. Why? Because of the usual reasons, TV ratings, prize money, and bigger galleries. But also because Phil Mickelson just beat the world's No. 1 player at the Masters and every tour player not named Tiger Woods loves to say they won a major with Tiger in the field. Mickelson has now done it four times, including three at Augusta. It was a special day for him and watching him embrace his wife Amy, who has been battling breast cancer for some time now, was a special moment for any golf fan. I for one could not be happier for a Phil Mickelson. He's a great player, a great guy, a fan favorite and he seems to live his life the right way. And Sunday's win was a win for the ages for him and for golf. And one reason it was a win for the game of golf was because Tiger was back in the field. He didn't do it alone. There were plenty of great stories from the Masters, but he certainly helped make this year's four days at Augusta some of the most memorable in recent years. Tiger has a habit of doing that anyway. And while he continues to work on rebuilding his personal life, if that's what he plans on doing, or if he messes things up again, one thing is certain, for me, as a golf fan, I hope to see more of Tiger on the course this summer. As a fan, I'll always love the game, but watching it, it just isn't the same without him, and this weekend, I was reminded of just why I love watching him play the game, and why I love watching golf. With Tiger around, no matter who's at the top of the leader board come Sunday night, the game is just that much better.

 
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