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Woods had his own perspective on all this buzz.

"I walked past Tiger on the range and I said, 'I never thought I would see the day - Tiger and Phil playing a practice round at Augusta, '" Rory McIlroy said. One of the world's highest-paid athletes, Woods previous year had $37 million in endorsements, down from $100 million in his prime, according to Forbes.

The back injury getting most of the attention at this year's Masters belongs to Tiger Woods, and for good reason. In case you haven't heard, Tiger Woods is back on his game, and rest assured the only thing on his mind this week is winning.

CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus said of the Woods effect: "It's as automatic as anything in sports television".

While Woods has not won a major since 2008 and is now ranked 103rd in the world, Tiger Tracker was crystal clear when asked if another golfer might warrant a similar "Tracker" account, simply replying: "Let me know when they get 14 majors". And hopefully, I end up on top. "There are so many great storylines I just want to let myself get swept away in the excitement".

"It was pretty awesome", Couples said.

Several blockbuster storylines are possible, not least the quest of Woods to defy long odds and collect a fifth Masters title less than a year after undergoing spinal fusion surgery. As he does that, we will remember how he led here after 18 and 36 and 54 holes in 2011, then came to the 10th tee Sunday - and hit into the cabins along the left side of the fairway and melted down en route to an 80.

He doesn't know of anyone who has competed at the highest level since fusion surgery on the lumbar area of the back, much less anyone who could generate 129 miles per hour of club speed with the driver.

Tiger Woods signed with Nike in 1996 at just 20 years old, when the apparel company welcomed him to the professional golfing world with a spot called "Hello, World". It was one of the lower moments in his life. His third shot stayed on the front fringe, but he saved bogey by making a 15-footer from there.

Tiger Woods has compared the atmosphere surrounding Augusta this week to that of 2001, the year he completed the 'Tiger Slam'.

The bigger obstacle might be a dozen or more other contenders, all of whom earned their share of the hype.

Woods has dominated the pre-tournament talk to the point that Justin Rose, last year's runner-up, didn't even have to refer to him by name. Rahm won two weeks later to move closer to No. 1 in the world.

Jason Day is simply one example. Justin Thomas has seven wins since the beginning of 2017. Woods even briefly became the favorite to win the tournament in Las Vegas after a string of brilliant play, though his odds eventually settled.

"Golf is in such a healthy place", said McIlroy. No surprise given it's his first competitive round at Augusta since 2015. He was 12 shots behind after two rounds. The move showed a lot of time has passed since the two were at the peak of their rivalry. But, he said, "I think that Tiger's probably going to be a little harder to get stuff out of than when he was hurt and I was asking him questions". Ridley could help make it more true. That's been the missing link in McIlroy's game for some time and if he brings a hot putter to Augusta National, he could be a factor. I enjoy playing the golf course. If I'm under the radar or not, it doesn't matter. "It's different this year and he's still the best player in the world when on top form".

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