Slaves and the Master

In about 5 hours, Tiger Woods will tee off at the first hole at Augusta National and undoubtedly release a sigh of relief as he's able to get back to business after four months of everyone being all up in his business. That strong gust of wind you'll feel at 1:43pm will be the sighs of the Professional Golf Association (PGA) and Nike, because their cash cow is back in the world that he owns.

Tiger Woods sucks as a husband, but he's dominant on the links and to those entities that's all that matters. Ask the PGA if they're happy he's back, ratings were down 50% without Tiger participating. The attendance was down, sponsorships lost, interest waned, and golf became well, boring again. Tiger's press conference, ESPN interview and talk with reporters Monday were viewed by more people than watched televised PGA events in his absence. They needed him back in play for their marquee weekend.

Speaking of sponsorships lost, Tiger lost endorsement deals as fast as he got them when he was a young phenom turning pro after stepping away from Stanford. Except for the most important and most lucrative, Nike, Phil Knight called the firestorm "a minor blip" and the sneaker giant continued their agreement with Eldridge. I wonder if there's a new commercial to air this weekend…

You know who else is happy with Tiger's return? The fans! Ardent and casual fans will be excited to see him play this weekend. Die-hard golf fans will love the competition playing against "The Master" brings out of his opposition. Casual fans (Black folks), will root for him to win this weekend because it will be a middle finger to the media and everyone that spoke out against him when it was confirmed that he was indeed human. The haters will be in full-effect this weekend and use this time to commence the Tiger bashing.

K.J. Choi and Matt Kuchar are pissed that Tiger's back or at least that they're paired with him for the opening round. Tiger's used to performing in a fishbowl; these guys may be a bit off their games with the eyes that'll be following them around today, not to mention the intimidation of playing against the best that's done what you do. Ernie Els, Jesper Parnevik, Phil Mickelson, Jack Nicklaus and countless others are cursing under their breath that Tiger is back.

During his press session Monday Tiger said, "Nothing's changed. Going to go out there and try to win this thing." Translation: I'm back! Watch me do me! Tiger is the exception to the thought that no one athlete is bigger than their sport. It's been proven in the coverage of transgressions, lack of coverage for tournaments during his sabbatical and stint in rehab and the surge in interest for his return. Like his return from his 2008 injury, he may be rusty and tentative to begin, but his greatness will ultimately have the final say. I don't know if he'll win his fifth green jacket Sunday, I really don't care, but I won't bet against him. What I do know is that he's returned to the sport he owns and some are ecstatic, others are ready to boo him, few saw their chances of winning go up in smoke, but everybody's got an opinion about The Master.

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