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PGA Tour Confidential: Masters Week

Tiger Woods, Augusta National, 2010 Masters, Sunday April 4
Charlie Riedel/AP
Tiger Woods hit a few shots on the driving range before playing a practice round on Sunday.

Every week of the 2010 PGA Tour season, the editorial staff of the SI Golf Group will conduct an e-mail roundtable. Check in on Mondays for the unfiltered opinions of our writers and editors and join the conversation in the comments section below.

David Dusek, deputy editor, Greetings from Augusta Ga., home of the 2010 Masters Toonamunt. The eyes of the world will be on Tiger Woods tomorrow when he gives his first press conference at 2 p.m. Eastern time. Let's make a turn down Magnolia Lane. What are people most interested in this week?

Alan Shipnuck, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: Tiger on Thursday, then the leaders after that. Bring on the real golf!

Mark Godich, senior editor, Sports Illustrated: I want to see how all of the Euros do. Time for one of them to contend at Augusta.

Rick Lipsey, writer-reporter, Sports Illustrated: Curious what the "yahoo" moment of the week will be for Tiger, whether on or off the grounds.

Shipnuck: I read that Tiger asked to stay in a cabin on the grounds. If true, that would indicate he's nervous about being in the world at large. But there are no yahoos at the Masters — no one wants to lose that badge forever.

Lipsey: Something will happen in Augusta.

Dusek: I spoke with a local who said she turned down more than $5,000 from a tabloid for her Tuesday badge. She was afraid the reporter/snoop would get kicked out and she'd lose the badge forever. She also said there is a semi-organized movement down here not to assist or cooperate with tabloid media outlets. I strongly doubt Tiger is going to hear anything but polite, quiet applause as he plays ... unless he makes a few birdies and eagles.

Jim Herre, managing editor, SI Golf Group: Woods will be harassed, but only off the course. He will be hounded by the uncredentialed media every moment he is not on the grounds of Augusta National. Could get ugly.

Shipnuck: I don't think so. He'll be at the course or in his house. It's not like he'll be in the queue at T-Bonz.

Godich: And he wonders why Elin won't show up for at least one day?

Lipsey: Spending the week with my two toddlers at home sounds infinitely more fun than being hounded in Augusta.

Shipnuck: Especially if home is a yacht floating in the Caribbean!

Damon Hack, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: Apparently Extra and Entertainment Tonight are already in Augusta. Tiger will be sleeping with one eye open.

Lipsey: Wouldn't be at all surprised if some porn company or gossip rag does something zany, like bringing an ex-Tiger babe to Washington Road to sign autographs, do interviews, etc.

Dusek: The truck from the show "Cheaters" has been driving around Augusta for more than a week, I'm told, and one of Tiger's alleged mistresses will be dancing at a strip club in Augusta. That the sort of thing you were thinking of Rick?

Shipnuck: But Tiger will just glide right by. The circus on Washington Road has no bearing on his week.

Dusek: I agree. How many majors did he win while juggling all the affairs we've learned about over the past five months? I think he knows how to block out distractions.

Lipsey: His major count has trailed off in recent years, compared to the early years. That could well be attributable to his off-course shenanigans

Dusek: Or his bum knee. Or his swing changes. Or his growing family. We can't know that, and is it really fair to make that leap?

Cameron Morfit, senior writer, Golf Magazine: Living a double life couldn't have helped his peace of mind.

Godich: Probably not fair to make that leap. I just don't think players are as intimidated by him as they once were.

Herre: I agree. Some of them probably feel morally superior. The aura is gone.

Shipnuck: Morally superior doesn't help you stop a 4-iron on the 15th green.

Godich: Just remember that the last memory we have of Tiger in a major is his getting chased down by Y.E. Yang at Hazeltine.

Morfit: No question the intimidation factor has been altered, but now I wonder if Tiger has unintentionally restored his aura by becoming even more famous than ever. O'Meara hit a crummy shot to start their practice round today and reportedly said he had not played with Woods for a while.

Godich: I want to see how Tiger behaves if he starts spraying shots and, of course, who he gets paired with. How about Tom Watson? That would be fun.

Morfit: Bubba Watson is Tiger's playing partner of choice, but he's not in the field. I still say Jim Furyk and Steve Stricker are the most likely candidates, but I wouldn't rule out Mark O'Meara or even Lee Westwood.

Herre: O'Meara's a good call. And maybe someone like Byeong-Hun An.

Godich: Will be interesting to see. And will Augusta officials feel players out to see if they're willing? I don't care what anybody says: Nobody is going to want to be paired with him. It will be a circus.

Shipnuck: It won't be a circus at Augusta National. There will be the same number of fans and media as any other year. And TW has always had the biggest galleries. On the grounds it will feel like any other Masters.

Dusek: I agree. Extra tickets were not sold for this year's tournament. A lot of people will still want to follow Phil Mickelson. Lots of patrons are going to set down their green chairs at Amen Corner and let the players come to them. Tiger's gallery will be huge, but it can't be bigger than the gallery he and Phil had last year on Sunday.

Godich: True, but there is still that distraction, the anticipation of his return. And I still wouldn't put it past some fan — er, patron — in the gallery popping off.

Lipsey: It'll be the most awkward sports event ever: All the people on the grounds will have questions on their minds, and Tiger will know they're thinking about those questions, but the questions won't come up, except in the very controlled press conference. It's funny to read the comments from Tour players, like Fred Couples and Paul Casey, who say they're only talking golf with Tiger. Those guys are as curious as we are, so it must kill them that they can play holes with Tiger without saying a word about you know what. Must be darn awkward.

Morfit: I'm curious how no-holds-barred the press conference will be. Seems like it has the potential for pain.

[Live Blog: Discuss Tiger's 2 p.m. press conference with Golf Magazine's Connell Barrett]

Godich: I know it has been said that there is no time limit on it, but I wonder how long he'll sit up there and take questions.

Farrell Evans, writer-reporter, Sports Illustrated: Tiger will tell us nothing we don't already know in his presser. He'll talk about the condition of his game and the golf course and how great the new range is.

Lipsey: Somebody could be holding onto a bombshell news scoop and waiting to cash in this week. Anything's possible and nothing would be too surprising.

Shipnuck: Only bombshell would be proof of PEDs. Another bimbo won't register.

Dusek: I agree. At this point, I think the world has become numb/desensitized to the number of women Tiger has had affairs with.

Godich: Everybody has moved on to Jesse James.

Morfit: Right. The trail of mistresses doesn't matter any more. It'll go away slowly, since some have bigger appetites for that stuff, but I already sense a bimbo-fatigue.

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