Retief Goosen does not believe Tiger Woods will have to put up with a torrent of abuse on his return at Augusta – or anywhere else.
Woods this week announced he was to make his return to golf, following a break to deal with well-publicised issues in his private life, at The Masters, where the tight security means heckling is likely to be at a minimum.
“I don’t think he’s going to be the bad guy. He’s going to be 99.9% the good guy,” said Goosen, who was today set to begin the defence of the Transitions Championship at Palm Harbor in Florida.
“There’s going to be that 1% that’s going to make comments and that probably is going to make him feel a little bit like the rest of us.
“Like playing in the US Open you have comments from people trying to put you off and make mistakes.
“I think the most interesting thing is to see what’s going to happen when he actually gets out and see what the crowd is going to react like towards the situation.
“But in general I think everybody is happy he’s coming back.”
The South African encountered his biggest crowd problem when he was battling with fan favourite Phil Mickelson for the US Open at Shinnecock Hills in 2004.
“It’s hard, but you try and prove something to yourself and them that you can play with all of that stuff going on,” he said.
“In a way it makes you a bit more determined to play well.”
As for the reactions of fellow players to the world number one, Goosen added: “I think the guys will look at him the same way as ever.
“What happened was something that happened off the golf course, not on the golf course. If it was a cheating situation on the golf course or something like that, the players would look at you different.
“But it’s a personal thing and it had no effect really on the golf besides TV ratings.
“If he’s mentally right and ready to play, then it shouldn’t be too much of a problem.
“Last time he came off an injury, so he wasn’t quite committed to really going full-out hitting the ball.
“It’s going to be great, I think. People, everybody I suppose, would like to see him come back and play.
“It’s great for sponsors and TV ratings, so I’m glad to see that it looks like his personal life is back on track and he’s ready to come out.
“The guy won’t come back if he doesn’t think he’s sort of ready to play. Just getting into a rhythm, getting into that sort of comfort zone would be the hardest thing.”