by Tim Cox
For New Pittsburgh Courier
AUGUSTA, Ga.—When news struck that Tiger Woods was returning to golf at the Masters tourney in Augusta, golfers, marketers, media outlets, hoteliers and others brewed with delight.
Since Tiger’s Thanksgiving Day auto wreck and subsequent public meltdown, the No. 1 golfer’s return to the course has been anticipated by millions. In Augusta, a city of 400,000 and the second-largest city in the Peach State next to Atlanta, Tiger’s return means mega dollar signs.
|FREAK STORM—Just weeks ago, the entrance to the Augusta National Golf Club was the scene of a freak snowstorm. Today, it’s the site of the nation’s hottest sports ticket, the Masters, featuring Tiger Woods.
Matthew Widener, a manager at nearby Surrey Tavern on Berkmans Road, about a mile from the golf course, says he expects added business based on what’s being dubbed the ‘Tiger Effect.’
“We typically get our share of usual customers from various parts of the world. But when news broke that Tiger was returning, you could literally see my customers faces light up,” he said. Surrey Tavern was founded in 1978 and features live R&B music nightly during the Masters tournament. Popular soul group, PlayBack “The Band” and Tutu D’Vyne have headlined Masters Week since the early 1990s.
“I figured Tiger would make his return here in Augusta,” said D’Vyne, who’s considered Augusta’s premier woman vocalist.
“The Masters is special and in Augusta, our law enforcement is strict and so are security measures inside the Masters. Tiger picked the right place. Augusta is like his second home. We’re a small town, but we don’t put up with no foolishness and that’s the kind of love and support Tiger needs upon returning to golf,” she said.
It’s rumored that Tiger will not leave the course and will reside inside one of the many residential sites that have been a part of the historic landscape, which was built in 1934.
The Masters runs from April 8-11. Practice rounds start April 5 and ends with a special par 3 tourney on April 7.
Prices for a single, four-day pass has skyrocketed to nearly $6,000, sources say. Prior to Tiger’s announced return last month, the same ticket cost about half that amount.