Woods ready for media scrutiny
Orlando - Tiger Woods will not be distracted by the intense media scrutiny when he steps into the unknown at next week's Masters, according to golfing great Gary Player.
South African Player believes Woods will be more focused on the game than ever before when he makes his highly anticipated return from self-imposed exile in the wake of his stunning fall from grace at the end of last year.
Woods, who has not played competitive golf since his victory at the Australian Masters on November 15 following tawdry revelations that he had a string of extra-marital affairs, will face the Masters media at Augusta National on Monday.
"Tiger will have to deal with a much different kind of media pressure when he returns," Player, 74, said on Tuesday. "Throughout his career the focus of every interview was his golf game, now it will be on his personal life.
"This will be a challenge for him because he will have to answer questions that he is not comfortable answering, but I don't think that it will have a negative effect on his ability to win.
"Tiger has one of the best minds in the game and when you learn how to master the mind you learn how to win while dealing with distractions," said Player, a nine-time major champion.
"I really believe Tiger will return to golf and be even more focused and I would not be surprised to see him win one of the four grand slam events this year."
Woods, a 14-times major winner, became engulfed in a media frenzy following a bizarre early-morning car crash outside his Florida home on November 27.
As allegations of his serial philandering escalated, the world number one took an indefinite break from the game while he tried to salvage his marriage to his Swedish wife Elin.
Woods, a four-time Masters champion, said earlier this year he was undergoing therapy for sex addiction.
Player, who was one of golf's so-called 'Big Three' with fellow greats Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer in the 1960s, firmly believes the private lives of high-profile sports figures should remain private.
"The media, and the public for that matter, tend to get caught up in people's private lives far more than what I consider to be acceptable," he said in an interview by e-mail.
"Tiger's situation is a private matter between him and his wife Elin and it should remain that way. All too often our society puts athletes on a pedestal and then waits for the pedestal to crumble.
"Everyone is imperfect and everyone makes mistakes. The appetite today for sensationalism is incredible and our society thrives on it.
"I would much rather see our focus be about events or people who inspire us and help make us better human beings."
The Masters, the year's first major, runs from April 8-11 at Augusta National.