Will Tiger be any good in Australia this year?

Tiger Woods winning the Australian Masters in 2009.
Arriving in Australia to play last year’s Australian Masters, Tiger Woods was asked how he had been able to maintain a massive degree of privacy away from the golf course. His reply; “People have been extremely respectful of my privacy, especially now that I have a family. They understand it. People who have family of their own, they would want that as well. In that regard, I have been very lucky that the people and the media have been very respectful of that and I’m very thankful.”
It is a very different Tiger Woods coming back to Australia again in November with the wall of privacy all but gone. The Victorian Government are once again paying for half of his $3million appearance fee to defend his golf jacket at the Australian Masters but it was in Melbourne last year, after winning the tournament his private life began to unravel.
Was it worth it?
Prior to Woods’ arrival last year, lovers and haters of golf debated the merits of enticing the world’s best golfer to play in Australia with a $3million cheque. But you only had to be within the vicinity of Melbourne to recognise the electric atmosphere as soon as the golf lover himself, landed. Subsequent reports by the Victorian government rated the enticement a huge success with $30million coming back into the economy and Golf Australia reporting a huge increase in golf participation across the country.
This was all helped by the fact Woods made the cut, which gave everyone an extra couple of days to see him play. The fact he went on to win the Masters was a huge, but not overly unexpected bonus.
Ten months on, after what has transpired and the news of his recent divorce, there’s a few people wondering where the gold jacket is, and more importantly could he win another one if he wanted to? I realise that in the spectrum of world golf, the Australian Masters is not high on everybody’s list of must-win events but with a $3 million dollar investment to lure the jungle-cat down under, it would be nice to know if he is going to be competitive.
Will he be any good?
Based on Woods’ 2010 performances, it is no lay down misére. He hasn’t played much golf and the golf he has played has been, by his standards, very poor. He needed a captain’s pick to make the Ryder Cup team and has only shown brief glimpses of anything resembling the old Tiger Woods. He vowed to become better behaved on the golf course and more personable but we’ve seen very little of that. If anything, he seems to be more angrier and stoic in post-round interviews than ever.

Tiger Woods fans at Kingston Heath last year. Photo: AFP

Sledging?
With this in mind one wonders how he will deal with the popular Australian past-time of sledging. His less controversial rival Phil Mickelson, has thrown members of the gallery out of the tournament for calling him ‘Figjam’ which is almost considered a term of endearment in down here.

No one in Australia has lost any admiration for him as a golfer, but one wonders if he’ll be able to shut out the banter and play good golf. One can never underestimate Woods’ ability to surprise on the golf course but things aren’t looking good for some weekend action in November. There must be a few tournament organisers hoping he comes good and makes the cut at the very least. If he doesn’t, now officially divorced, it is not hard to imagine how Tiger will use his spare time.

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