Monday, April 05, 2010
Woods' much anticipated return to golf on the public stage had plenty of respectful applause and no noticeable heckling Monday as the world's No. 1 player went 18 holes, finishing about 90 minutes before his scheduled 2 p.m. press conference.
Woods didn't stop to talk after his practice round but Couples, who played all 18 holes with Woods, and Furyk, who played the last six, both said it felt familiar being with Woods again.
"It was extremely positive. I expected it to be positive. It was probably even better," Furyk said of the gallery reaction.
Patrons were just entering the property when Woods and Couples teed off but as the day went on, their gallery swelled. Being Monday, there weren't many players on the course but it hardly seemed to matter as most of the gallery sought out the Woods group.
Woods hit a variety of shots from different spots around the course, occasionally wrestling with hitting shots to the left.
"I"m sure Tiger was a little on edge for not playing and trying to get his game sharp," Furyk said.
"I treated him like I always treat him. I didn't tease him as much as I would usually so I'll wait for the second time."
Couples was his usual laid-back self, enjoying what had the feel of a casual round of golf among friends.
"He's the best player in the world," Couples said. "He hasn't played any golf in a while but he's still the best player in the world. I love the way he plays. I think he'll do well here at Augusta.
"His intimdation factor is always there but you have to play good golf. He hasn't played much. It would be crazy for me to say he's not going to do well but it would crazy for me to say he's the guy to beat because he hasn't played a round of golf in five or six months."
Geoff Ogilvy played by himself in the group behind Woods, starting nearly 45 minutes later. Ogilvy cruised around Augusta National's first nine, took a 30-minute breakfast then finished his round, watching the large gallery ahead.
"It sounded like they were excited to watch him play golf and I think pretty soon it will be back to normal," Ogilvy said.
Posted by Observer Sports at 12:49 PM