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Arnold Palmer predicts a tough time for Tiger
March 15, 2010

Four-times U.S Masters winner Arnold Palmer said Tiger Woods would be in for a tough time on his return to golf at Augusta next month.

Woods, plagued by revelations about his marital infidelity, is likely to face intense media scrutiny and the response of spectators at one of the most conservative venues in U.S golf is uncertain.

The world number one, who has not competed since November following the much publicised scandals surrounding his extra-marital affairs, announced on Tuesday he would return to golf at the April 8-11 tournament.

“For Tiger it is going to be tough, it is going to be something that will take him a little time to get used to,” Palmer, one of the most respected figures in the game, told the Golf Channel.

“I am sure that he will anticipate all those things before he gets there and I think, as well as he can, he will understand the things that might happen.”

Palmer hosts his PGA Tour invitational event next week at his Bay Hill course and there had been rumours Woods might use that occasion to ease himself back in to competitive golf.

But Palmer said he had spoken twice to Woods shortly before the announcement and while he was disappointed not to have the world number one in his field he understood the motives.

“I spoke to him a couple of times, I spoke to him last night and then again this morning just to make sure that everything was the way I got it.

“He expressed his regrets for not being able to play and said that he was sorry but that he really didn’t feel his game was up to speed to start playing this early.

“It was a fairly short conversation and of course we are all disappointed that Tiger isn’t going to be here to play but certainly under the conditions and the things that have happened we understand,” he added.

Palmer said Woods sounded in upbeat mood on the phone, “He sounded good, he had some zip in his voice. He sounded just fine,” but he was not sure how well the 14-times major winner would cope with going straight into a major without any competitive preparation.

“I can’t really tell about that - that’s something that only the player knows and certainly he knows what he wants to do with his life and the way he is going to handle it and I guess we are going to give him that respect,” he said.

But Palmer, who will make the ceremonial tee-off at Augusta’s first hole with Jack Nicklaus, said Woods could be sure of good organization at the Masters.

“Augusta is one place in the world where you can have control and they will control everything from the crowds to the situation that will be facing Tiger and I think if there is a place in the world that you can do that and do it properly, Augusta is that,” he said.


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