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April 7, 2010 3:50 AM

Why Tiger really chose the Masters for his Comeback

a tiger-woods_1598039c.jpgTiger Woods has admitted that he tore apart his family when he went on a reckless years-long sex spree behind his wife's back, and atop buxom babes of all stripes and sporty sizes.

On three different occasions now Tiger has told us approximately 37 times how sorry he is for the awful things he did to his family. He made it clear these awful things are private, however, and certainly won't be discussed in public.
 
Fair enough, but what about the TW brand that Tiger has pretty much avoided talking candidly about since blasting out of his bunker?

You can make a heavy wager that there's a clutch of his big-shot associates in the business world with more than just a passing interest about how (and when) he will go about resurrecting the vast, filthy-rich empire they built together before he nearly flattened it all when he went off on his lascivious romp.

Remember, this was a kingdom that saw its first brick laid 32 years ago -- long before all those hotties were a glimmer in his big, round eyes -- when he accompanied his media-savvy father, Earl, on the Mike Douglas Show and exhibited a putting stroke that would make a single-digit handicapper blush.

Prince Tiger was but 2 years old.

Tiger Woods...
Has there ever been a better name for any athlete, much less a golfer? Even Earl couldn't have guessed that the name he foisted on the son would have worked equally well if he made a full-time gig out of his other passion...

Hello world! Tiger arrives...

Tiger's arrival on the golf scene was about as subtle as a sonic boom. Thanks to his father's one-man public-relations crusade, and some other-worldly play, everybody heard Tiger coming, but were powerless to stop him.

When he started winning everything in sight, he also became impossible to ignore -- even if he almost never said anything worth listening to.

Frankly, he was a bore, and treated the media and his fans with the disregard and disdain paid to a hovering mosquito.

No matter. Tiger was a sensation.

He'd do the playing and winning, while one gigantic industry after another lined up behind him. They told him what little he'd say and what he'd wear while they all got busy stuffing their wallets.
Tiger sold shirts, and drinks, and cars, and credit cards, and God knows what else.

Late last year it was reported that Tiger Woods was worth a cool billion dollars.

Then, beginning on that fateful Thanksgiving night, we started to discover that the Tiger Woods his father, and the fat-cat marketers and tycoons put before us was really nothing but the greatest golfer in the world.

Trouble is, that is never going to be enough for Tiger Woods. Not after he owned a good chunk of the world...

Woods' return to competition today has far less -- if anything at all -- to do with repairing his broken family, and nearly everything to do with restoring faith in his once bullet-proof brand.

Whether it's too soon for Woods Inc. to return to the golf course is ripe for speculation, but it was always going to be at this very time...and at this very place.

There was too much to lose by waiting.

When Tiger came out of hiding and gave that tearful speech in front of the weird, blue curtains and before his mom, a few friends and selected PR- and media-fawners seven weeks ago at the PGA's headquarters, he tried to make himself -- and us, I suppose -- believe that he was seriously considering taking the year off from golf to start bending his personal life back into shape.

Tiger told us he was even going to tap Buddha on the shoulder to help keep him prowling the straight and narrow.

It was great theater. Everybody watched. It was also a lot of BS, and the start of building back up the TW brand.

Turns out that while he stood there and apologized over and over for being so selfish and rotten, those greedy voices he surrounded himself with were already yammering away at him to wrap it up, and book that annual trip to Augusta, Ga., already.

Only a few weeks later, we found out yet again that the Great Tiger was powerless to ignore those voices, and today he is back to doing one of the things he does best, even if what he told us during that tearful press conference that really needed doing is nowhere to be found in Georgia.

Tiger and Augusta, perfect together...

If ever two things were made for each other it's Tiger Woods and Augusta National Golf Club. Each is the definition of private, and neither is big on talking -- at least not about anything worth listening to.

Nobody bomb-proofs a sporting event like the rich men that rule Augusta. Every single thing is controlled. Nothing is left to chance.
Frankly, the tournament is a dream to watch just as long as you understand that the golf and the marvelous course are easily the purest things about the place.

Of course there has always been delicious irony in this odd couple's love affair: Tiger, a man of color, being embraced and embracing right back a private club that adorns itself with male members who are all shades of white.

Sure, the place finally accepted its first black member in 1991, and now might house upwards of six African-American members (out of approximately 300), but, honestly, you'll see more color in a vanilla milkshake than you will at a gathering of Augusta National members.

And, of course, woman aren't allowed, though there are reports they are shopping for one to fill the just-built, pink token's locker.

Don't get me wrong, a private club has every right to choose the members its desires, but we can learn a lot about a place from the choices it makes, no? This, too, is not so much unlike Tiger himself...

Little things like race can be overlooked when the place offers the things Tiger and his entourage really crave...privacy and control. It's always been about privacy and control, and over the past four months we got another strong taste of why.

Today he will start working his way back into the hearts and minds of the giants of industry that helped make him what we thought he was five months ago.

The media that built Tiger up and then helped tear him down will be kept at a safe distance at Augusta. The fans, er, patrons, will be civil and polite or will be run from the place by the men in the green jackets.

Tiger and his bulging muscles will be seen standing thoughtfully over the golf ball, framed by the beautiful azaleas and dogwoods that rim Bobby Jones' masterpiece.

He tells us he might even smile more -- acknowledge the patrons even.
The resurrection of Tiger Woods Inc., will finally be under way after months of diminishing returns, and not a minute to soon for all those big-shots.

Thankfully, this is a nation that believes in second chances, and what better place for Tiger to start re-branding again than Augusta where nothing is ever left to chance...

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