Fans Cheer Tiger's Return

In his first pro appearance since his marital scandal, onlookers yell, "You're the man!”

Fans Cheer Tiger’s Return

In his first pro appearance since his marital scandal, onlookers yell, “You’re the man!”

-Jane Farrell

Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods, who said earlier this week that he hoped for “a few cheers” from fans as he returned to professional golf, got more than he expected: a sustained ovation from hundreds of attendees at the Masters Tournament Thursday in Augusta, Georgia.

It was, as the ESPN announcers said repeatedly, Woods’s first appearance as a professional golfer in 144 days. The role-model athlete’s life unraveled after a car accident last November led to revelations of prescription-drug use, gambling and relationships or hookups with as many as fifteen women.

Woods, accompanied by golf officials, his caddy and a police officer, walked onto the course between two roped-off groups of fans. Cheers, whistles and applause erupted. “You’re the man!” one fan yelled. “My man!” shouted another.

Once on the course, Woods smiled and waved at the fans—for him, an unusually warm response. On the first hole shot, he hit a powerful drive down the fairway. It was a good though not spectacular shot.

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Woods’s wife, Elin Nordegren, was not in the audience. She and Woods have lived apart since the scandal broke, and she reportedly refused to attend the Masters to show her support. The couple have two children.

But although the day started off on a good note, it was apparent that not everyone had forgiven Woods. At a news conference earlier this week, the athlete said, said he was finding comfort in Buddhism and meditating with his mother. On Thursday, according to Yahoo! Sports, a plane flew over the golf course, carrying a sign that said, “Tiger, did you mean Bootyism?” (Yahoo! Sports)

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