Jordan Furbee

Women lying in the quad, trees turning green, birds are chirping. Spring is officially here, and with that also means the return of golf to the hallowed grounds of Augusta National.

The Masters begins this week as it normally does every spring, only this year the questions fielded aren’t about the azaleas, the course or the field. No, the questions will be focused on one man, Mr. Eldrick Woods.

Thursday will be the first time we have seen Tiger play since November 2009, and sure enough the media hoopla has already begun. How many women was he with? Ten? Fifteen? Twenty? Did his caddie and agent know about his affairs? How could he do such a thing with two small children? Maybe it’s appropriate that this past weekend was Easter, a time of rebirth and renewal. Let’s give Tiger a fresh start.

In no way do I condone his affairs, but enough is enough. I feel like Chris Crocker saying “leave Britney alone!” But seriously, leave Tiger alone. The man has apologized, gone to rehab, taken time away from golf, lost a good portion of his sponsors, maybe lost his wife. What else does he need to do? Cure AIDS? Walk on water? Let him play some golf.

I know we all like to hold athletes to higher standards, but they really are people like you and I. They make mistakes, and sometimes it’s okay to mess up. We’ve been so accustomed to seeing Tiger as a straight edge that when the issue of his indiscretions came up, we chomped at the bit to find out and hear more about who he was with or where it happened or what the text messages say. Again, just let him play.

I’m sure that Tiger will be more than willing to talk about golf this week. Ask him about his swing, what his strategy is or how it feels to be back at the cathedral of golf. Anything but a question about the past five months! I somewhat feel bad for the guy.

But before we go crying for Tiger, let’s not forget the guy has dealt well with comebacks before. After his father’s death in 2006, Tiger didn’t end up winning the U.S. Open, in fact he missed the cut, but he did return to win the British Open at Royal Liverpool later that year. And how can you forget about his stunning U.S. Open victory in 2008? After having arthroscopic knee surgery two months prior, Woods played in one of the greatest playoffs in U.S. Open history, going head to head with Rocco Mediate to win the tournament in sudden death on the 91 hole. He eventually revealed that he played with a torn ligament and a double fracture in his left leg — quite possibly the greatest victory of his career, and he did it all on one leg.

While most of America still doesn’t think highly of Tiger, I hope we can all agree that the healing and forgiveness needs to begin and we need to let Tiger be Tiger. He may very well win the damn thing and further cement his legacy as the greatest golfer of all time. And when you consider the past 144 days he’s been through, you may truly appreciate what we’re witnessing when we see Tiger play his game.