Four Corners: How long will Tiger Woods be away from golf?

'Indefinite leave' is a very imprecise phrase, so we dive in deeper to make some predictions

December 15, 2009

Palmer Invite logical pick
Tom Yantz, Hartford Courant

Despite all the unflattering reports about his personal life that have reduced the world's No. 1 athlete to a level once thought impossible, he remains a determined person. So he'll try his best to mend the wounds and to save his marriage.

He won't sit out the year from golf, though, just as he won't return for the San Diego Open next month.

Familiar surroundings of success will ease his return. He'll play in The Masters, which will limit tabloid and paparazzi intrusions to a certain level. He'll like that.

But the Masters won't be his first event of 2010. To prepare for Augusta, he'll play March 25 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Remember, he has won there six times, including this year.

Orlando makes sense
Barry Stavro, Los Angeles Times

Probably at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Orlando on March 25-28.

Why? It's just down the street from Woods' home. The tournament host, Palmer, has been an avuncular figure for Woods since he was a student at Stanford. Woods has won Palmer's tournament at Bay Hill six times, the most recent time last spring. And that win in 2009 was a comeback, too, because it was Woods' first tour win since returning to the circuit after having major knee surgery in 2008.

Finally, the Palmer tourney also serves as a convenient tune-up for the Masters, which begins two weeks later. So, all signs point to the media attention coming full circle in Orlando, about four months after Woods' strange early morning car accident.

A return to his roots
Teddy Greenstein, Chicago Tribune

The temptation will be for Tiger to parachute into Augusta National in April. Why? Because the Men of the Masters don't take kindly to outsiders. The National Enquirer would have about a .0003 percent chance of getting a credential, and "patrons" who long for tranquility might throw a trespassing cameraman into Rae's Creek. We know how successful Martha Burk was when she tried to draw attention to her anti-discrimination rally.

Here's what Tiger should do: Play Riviera, site of the Northern Trust Open, beginning Feb. 19. As a high school sophomore from neighboring Orange County, Woods made his PGA Tour debut at the L.A. Open. He last played at Riviera in 2006. Now it's time for him to re-launch his career, return to his roots. Can you smell the symbolism?

No good time to return
George Diaz, Orlando Sentinel

At first blush, the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill would be an excellent choice for Woods to emerge from hibernation. It's a home date for him on a course he has simply destroyed. How do six victories here sound?

It's also good because it would give Woods a chance to re-establish himself before playing in the Masters on April 8-11.

But all of this is wishful thinking.

There isn't a good time for Woods to make a return to the golf course. Its going to be a Zoo - emphasis on capital Z - wherever he goes. Woods, the very private guy, won't have any control over the media horde wanting a piece of him.

He can't hide forever. And that's how long it will take before he may get any privacy.

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