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Tiger Woods: back on the prowl in the Masters field

This weekend marks the return of sports’ fastest-falling superstar. 
After the most tumultuous off season sports has seen, golf’s stand out is returning to take the stage at the game’s Super Bowl–the Masters.
Everyone knows about Tiger’s transgressions that were exposed this past November and his disappearance until a month ago.
Tiger has seen not just his personal life fall apart but it has been more than a year since his last major victory, which was the 2008 U.S. Open. Tiger is looking to roar back into the swing of things this weekend.
And in my humble opinion, I don’t think anyone will stop him.
Now he returns to his natural habitat, the links. And no golf club has been nicer to him than Augusta National.
The site of his first major championship in 1997, which he won by 12 strokes, and three more after that, Augusta should be more than comforting to the world’s No. 1-ranked golfer.
On top of that, Tiger is in a class few can ever reach in sports. His level of determination on the course is unparalleled in golf. 
In 14 seasons in the PGA, he has amassed the second most wins ever, 71, and the second most major championships, 14. He enters every tournament he plays with a mindset focused on victory and plays it like it’s his last.
The only athletes of our generation that we have seen with that level of resolve and grit are MJ and Lance Armstrong.
Those three gave kids, regardless of what sport they were playing, someone to look up to work ethic-wise. In a day where players take practice, (“man, we talking ‘bout practice”) for granted, Tiger was an athlete who never took a day off.
And even though he took a lot of flak for his “tantrums” on the course, he showed heart and desire. You could always see the intensity in his eyes. Now that he’s faced some real life adversity, he should come back to the golf course.
The other reason why I believe Tiger is going to come back is this whole debacle may have been a blessing in disguise for him golf-wise.
He has spent the last month playing at Augusta and over the course of his rehab, he spent most of his time playing golf.
For him, golf was therapeutic. It was an escape from the pitfalls of his lapses in judgment.
People who have played with him since he’s left rehab say he looks as sharp as he ever has.
His stint in rehab and public falling out made him look human for the first time since he openly wept after winning the 2006 U.S. Open, the first tournament he played after his father’s death.
And even then, his win under those circumstances helped build the legend.  He has also looked methodical to the point that he almost seemed like a robot.
Tiger always seemed to crank it up when it mattered most. He has only missed the cut three times in majors. His 14 major titles in 50 tries since his first win are an astronomical number.
But now, everyone is going to look at him differently. He screwed up royally and doesn’t come off so machine-like anymore.
And when push comes to shove this weekend, I will be among the millions of people who have decided he has more than paid his debts to society.
After four months that would make the strongest of men want to curl up in a ball and hide, Tiger will take his place as the King of the Jungle.
Bill Hopkins is a sophomore sports communication major from Oswego. He is the Scout sports editor.
Direct comments, questions and other responses to whopkins@mail.bradley.edu.
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