Can Woods Put This All Behind Him And Really Be a New Tiger?

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↵This Tiger Woods mess all happened in a vacuum. Think about the timeline of everything. We, as the American public, found out about all of his transgressions between Thanksgiving and…well…there's that girl we're learning about now, so, from Thanksgiving until the present. And probably future. ↵

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↵But for Woods, it all happened in the past (we think). It's impossible for us to keep track of all the women and when he had relationships with each of them. Was the Perkins waitress before or after the porn star? Did that come before the New York socialite? When did he have time to squeeze in the other waitress…and the other porn star? And what about this neighbor the internet has been falling over itself to find photos of today? ↵

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↵Since it was all new to us, it feels like it's new for Tiger. Yet Tiger was winning all the titles he's won – on bad knees and an Achilles tendon in need of surgery – all while stringing along a cavalcade of bimbos on the side. And being a dad to two kids. And, to some morally-indecent extent, being a husband. None of this is new to him. In fact, he may feel liberated from the fact that he was hiding all of this for so long. He doesn't have to worry about the clandestine text messages and having his buddies set up dates on the side after the tournament. It's all out in the open now. He's gone through rehab. He can just focus on golf for the first time in a while. ↵

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↵And that's exactly what he'll face on the first tee Thursday afternoon. At 1:42 p.m., Tiger Woods can get back to golf. But will he be able to focus like he has in the past? Woods mentioned during his press conference that the fans have been great and, by and large, the fans – sorry, sorry, patrons – at the Masters are almost as hand-picked as the media. There's a good chance that Tiger could feel rather protected in his own, private, azalea-lined cathedral. But what if he's not? ↵

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↵What will happen if someone spent a lot of money to get tickets just so they can make a scene? What if someone sneezes in his backswing on the first tee? Or, heck, what if someone waits until Amen Corner to make a scene when Tiger rounds into the holes ESPN will be covering starting at 4 p.m.? Sure, whoever distracts Tiger will be kicked out of Augusta – and probably the state of Georgia – forever, but wouldn't it be worth it for some tabloid or dare-I-say website trying to make a name for itself on the biggest stage? Talk about a news cycle. ↵

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↵Forget about the golf swing. That's like riding a bike to Woods. I spoke with Shane Bacon of Yahoo's Devil Ball Golf this week, and we both think that Woods can spend the first two rounds just leisurely trying to make pars and still be in complete control of the tournament by Saturday afternoon. None of that is an issue – not the layoff, or the knee or the Achilles. It's the 'what if.' ↵

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↵What if someone yells? What if a cameraperson snaps a shot in his backswing? Does he blow up like he has in the past? Does Stevie Williams berate the person? Or can it roll off the new "back-to-Buddha" Tiger's back? ↵

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↵Forget about all the women. That's old news. Tomorrow, we'll see if there really is a new Tiger on the course. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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