- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 8, 2010

AUGUSTA, Ga. | As Tiger Woods walked to the 12th hole at the Masters, the fans around the tee rose and gave him a standing ovation.

Woods took off his baseball cap and nodded in appreciation. If there was ever any doubt fans would look beyond the sex scandal that made the world’s most famous golfer a tabloid fixture, here was proof.

“People have been waiting to see him,” Denny Bleh said Thursday in Amen Corner at Augusta National. “Golf fans couldn’t wait to have him back.”

This marked Woods’ first competitive round since the November SUV accident that led to revelations of rampant extramarital affairs. Earlier, he said he was nervous about how fans would react to him and hoped a few would cheer.

Turns out many were eager to have him back. He was applauded on each hole, as a sea of fans followed his every move. “Make us proud!” one yelled on the first hole.

“It’s good for the game of golf for him to be back,” said Beth Becton, whose nephews, 9-year-old Sullins and 12-year-old James, were excited to see their favorite player.

But James Becton, the boys’ grandfather, was a little more conflicted. He agreed with the harsh words Augusta National chairman Billy Payne had for Woods the day before, saying the golfer had failed to live up to his responsibilities as a role model.

“But we’ll wish him well today,” Becton said.

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