Coming Friday: Watching, and flipping around, with the Tiger return

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The Associated Press

About a month ago, even before Tiger Woods announced that this weekend’s Masters would be the place for his return after a five-month layoff due to, ahem, family matters, CBS Sports president Sean McManus was quoted as saying he thought this moment “will be the biggest media event, other than the Obama inauguration, in the past 10 or 15 years.”

McManus may have underestimated it.

The Masters, a tradition unlike any other, is unlikely to ever see such a spectacle. ESPN, Golf Channel — even the Weather Channel — had a stake in its coverage of Tiger, which we will cover in Friday’s media column.

The sweaty palms started Wednesday night:

“Tiger Woods returns to golf!” Stuart Scott booya’d during a Suns-Spurs halftime report which included a graphic of “Countdown to Tiger Tee-off ESPN” that showed 13 hours, 44 minutes and 36 seconds.

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This morning, ESPN “SportsCenter” led off its 6 a.m. show with all-Masters – tape of the Arnold Palmer-Jack Nicklaus ceremonial tee time, and reporter Wendy Nix explaining how “it’s been a quiet start as you get the sense that the crowds are anticipating what is to come . . . you can feel the tension building as we look toward Tiger.”

By 7 a.m., Golf Channel popped on with Rich Lerner to report that Woods received “a standing ovation” at the Golf Writers Association of America dinner the night before, with Golf World writer Tim Rosaforte reporting that it was “awkward” and “surprising” he was there considering the group boycotted his Feb. 19 press conference. “I stood up out of respect for the fact that the man ‘manned up’ and went to this dinner,” said Rosaforte. “This was just part of the overall ‘make good with everybody.’”

Golf Channel reporter Alex Miceli added later: “I would say half the room stood up for the ovation, but I think a lot of people were uncomfortable. They didn’t know what to do. … It was nice of him to come, I appreciate him coming as someone who’s on the (GWAA) board, but the bottom line was we’re trying to figure out why half the people stood. There’s nothing to stand for. There’s a lot of issues still unsaid with Tiger. … It was a little pensive moment I thought.”

And then there’s that new Nike commercial …. and Woods hasn’t even entered the grounds yet.

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