By Doug Ferguson/The Associated Press
AUGUSTA, Ga. — Thousands of fans are following Tiger Woods around Augusta National during practice rounds. Millions more around the world will be able to watch when he officially makes his return to golf at the Masters on Thursday.
Woods was put in the next-to-last group for the opening round — his first meaningful shot since his private life unraveled in sordid tales of infidelity five months ago. His 1:42 p.m. tee time fits perfectly into ESPN’s live television coverage.
Joining the world’s No. 1 player will be K.J. Choi and Matt Kuchar.
“It’s funny, because I sort of had a feeling when I left Dallas that it would be cool if I was paired with Tiger, and it happened,” Choi said when he walked off the 18th green Tuesday. “I like playing with big crowds.”
Massive crowds again chased after Woods and Mark O’Meara during a morning practice round, which appeared to be routine until Woods crouched on the 10th green and pulled out his cell phone.
It looked bad, and not just because Augusta National asks players not to take phones onto the course. Only three weeks ago, a porn star who claims to have had a three-year affair with Woods released what she said were text messages from Woods on her Web site.
Turns out Woods was using his phone to videotape Meara at work.
“He was helping me with my putting,” he said. “I had a loop in my putting stroke. He wanted to film my putting stroke.”
Woods did not speak on Tuesday, yet he remains very much the center of attention at this Masters.