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Tiger Woods Masters comeback: not the safe play

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Dave Martin/AP Photo/File

(Read caption) In this April 13, 1997 photo, Masters champion Tiger Woods receives his green jacket from the previous year's winner Nick Faldo (rear) at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Ga. In a statement Tuesday, Woods said he will play at Augusta National after a four-month hiatus because of a sex scandal. The Masters begins on April 8.

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As Tiger Woods returns to the world of golf, the world will be entering the game of second-guessing.

Did he come back too soon? Did he stay away too long?

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But one thing is clear: By coming back at a big tournament like the Masters, he is rolling the dice.

"It is good for him to come back," says Gene Grabowski, senior vice president who heads the crisis practice of Levick Strategic Communications, a consulting firm in Washington, D.C. But "he may have been better advised to start at a smaller tournament where he wouldn't have such great media scrutiny and pressure to win."

At a lesser tournament, Woods could talk about getting his swing back and preparing for a major tournament. It's there that the media would take its shot about the extra-marital affairs and its effect on his game.

If he won, great. If he didn't, no big deal. Tiger could say he was easing back into the game.

At Augusta, it's all on the line.

"If he pulls it off, it's a great coup for golf and it's a great coup for his image," Mr. Grabowski says. "If he doesn't do so well, people will be asking questions about his abilities."

Maybe great players thrive on that kind of pressure. But is that a decision that Woods's high-powered team of image consultants would have made?