Everything in place for Tiger


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The Independent Online

Hank Haney was once employed as Tiger Woods's coach but after causing widespread sympathy for the shamed superstar perhaps he should now apply to be his PR man.

The Texan has seemingly become an enemy of the American sporting public by revealing "secrets"of his six years with Woods in "The Big Miss", the book published last week. The backlash came to a head yesterday, when Haney hung up live on a popular radio show after being called "the scum of the earth" and "a horrible human being" by a presenter.

If Woods required a pick-me-up before The Masters that would have been the perfect listening. Woods will return to Augusta not only as the bookies' favourite, but as the crowd's favourite, too. His win at the Arnold Palmer Invitational last Sunday set up the chance of an Augusta redemption. "He's got the crowd back on his side. That could make a difference," said Colin Montgomerie.

This is the 15th anniversary of Woods' first of four green jackets. He will line up against Rory McIlroy, who was just seven when Woods stunned the world by winning his first major as a pro by 12 shots. But McIlroy remembers it well. "I had the tape of that Masters and I played it over and over – think I wore it out," he said.

Nobody is expecting a similar procession this time– the competition is too strong. But there are rivals such as Justin Rose, the world No 8, who believes Woods's last two performances at Augusta are significant form-pointers. "Even Tiger playing badly has competed at Augusta the last couple of years," said Rose. "He's definitely going to be the man to beat."