Woods’ tee time a good fit for TV
After weeks of speculation about his playing partners for the opening two rounds at Augusta National, the starting times released on Tuesday had more to do with “when” than “who.”
Woods is to tee off at 12:42 p.m. (CDT), Thursday in the second-to-last group for the second straight year. Barring delays, his group likely will be on about the eighth hole when ESPN’s coverage begins at 3 p.m.
It will be the first time Woods has competed since a shocking sex scandal began to unfold the day after Thanksgiving.
Joining him for two days will be Matt Kuchar, a popular figure in these parts from his All-American days at Georgia Tech; and K.J. Choi of South Korea, which is sure to appeal to Augusta National’s broadcast partners in Asia.
Woods is to start at 9:35 a.m. on Friday, limiting coverage of him to live streaming on the Masters’ Web site.
Choi and Kuchar both sound like they’re looking forward to playing with Woods.
“I’m going to have a front-row seat to something that’s going to captivate the world,” Kuchar said. “It’s exciting. It’s good to have him back on the golf course. What he did outside of the course is none of my business. I’m just worried about what happens on the course.”
Choi was hoping for the chance to play with Woods.
Despite some language barriers, they are comfortable playing together. This will be his 13th time playing with Woods.
“Even when all this came out and the rumors of Tiger coming back, my friends were saying, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if you were paired with Tiger when he played his first tournament?’ ” Choi said through his interpreter and agent, Michael Yim.
“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,” he said. “It’s a good surprise.”
The gallery following Woods the first two days of practice this week has been enormous, not to mention polite. Woods has received ovations and the occasional “Welcome back, Tiger,” while playing with Fred Couples on Monday and Mark O’Meara on Tuesday.
Choi expects that to continue.
“It’s important that the gallery realize what’s going on,” he said. “To take what happened outside the golf course and bring it inside the golf course, I don’t think that’s right. I believe they’re educated and will respect the game of golf.”