Tiger Woods' return is as much about CBS, Masters, and Nike as his marriage
But, is this really a big surprise? Early on many surmised that he may sit out the entire PGA season, but as time went on it became more apparent that Tiger Woods was taking the necessary political steps to return.
First there was the news of Tiger entering a sex rehab in Mississippi. And, then was the press conference where he apologized for his sordid behavior and to his wife. Added to that, he made it apparent that he would try and save his marriage to Elin Nordegren.
The fact of the matter is that Nike and the PGA Tour need Tiger Woods as much as he needs them. It's a symbiotic relationship. When Tiger sits out a tournament-ratings flounder. And, now that he's returning it's going to mean huge ratings for CBS on the Masters.
This may go down as the highest rated Masters in history. Don't think for a minute that Tiger's camp and the braintrust at CBS and the PGA didn't discuss this. Is it the only reason for his return? No, but it's an added incentive for all parties involved.
Furthermore, Nike is the one corporation who has stood by Tiger through this whole mess. And, it probably was a smart thing considering that they supported Michael Jordan all those years when he was anything but husband of the year on an annual basis. Nike will benefit in a big way by Woods' return. Every time Woods plays, their logo is firmly planted on his shirts and hats. And, Nike is too smart to bail on a commodity like Tiger. They have provided him with the life he has so don't think for a second he and Phil Knight didn't have a conversation about this during the whole mess. When Tiger's endorsements fell by the wayside, Nike stood by his side.
And, most importantly it's his decision to return. Tiger could walk off into the sunset and never play again and be able to hand down millions upon millions of dollars to his children, their children, and so on.
When you consider all of the variables in this equation, barring a major injury there is really is no way Tiger can stay away from the Masters. Tiger Woods and the Masters go hand in hand like peanut butter and jelly. They are as much of a part of American sports culture as the NCAA Tournament, the Super Bowl, and The Kentucky Derby.
Photo of Tiger Woods from Masters from http://img.skysports.com
Photo of Tiger Woods with Elin Nordegren and baby from http://alligatorfarm.files.wordpress.com