AUGUSTA, Ga.- Tiger Woods was hoping for the best, but steeled for the worst as he stepped out in front of thousands of fans during his first Masters week practice round, playing alongside Fred Couples and, for a few holes, Jim Furyk.
"I didn't know what to expect with regards to the reception and the galleries couldn't have been nicer," a relieved Woods said.
"The encouragement I got, it just blew me away, to be honest. The people here over the years, I know they are extremely respectful, but today was something that just touched my heart."
Furyk said he saw a side of Tiger he may not have seen before - nerves.
"I don't know whether I've ever seen Tiger nervous before," said Furyk, one of Woods' past Ryder Cup partners.
Woods hit a handful of decent shots but it would be tough to predict a fifth Green Jacket for next Sunday off this warmup round.
The people really didn't care.
Everybody loves a redemption story, real or imagined.
"To be out there in front of people (after) I have done some things that were just horrible, and for the fans to really want to see me play golf again, it felt great. It really did," said Woods.
"Usually I focus on placements of shots and getting ready but today was a little bit different. I kind of took it in a little bit more, more than I have in a long time and it felt really good."
Cynics may have pegged the ever-popular Couples as Woods's comfort blanket Monday, there to mute any negative reaction.
"The reception was awesome and that's how it should be. He knows he made a blunder and he is back to try to make up for it," said Couples.
"Good golf will do that - even bad golf will do it. He is back where he belongs. You could see he hasn't played for a while, so whether the intimidation factor is back yet will depend on how he plays. It's as simple as that."
"As far as I could see, a lot of people, women and children included, were reaching out and saying welcome back," Furyk said.