Woods has made his way to the first tee thousands of times in his life - but nothing quite like Thursday.
In front of a sea of spectators and a worldwide TV audience, Woods stepped up stepped up and smashed a 300-yard drive straight down the fairway, markingand the next chapter of a still-unfolding drama.
"He loves to control everything, and you like to feel comfortable and you know what to expect in the day," said CBS golf analyst Nick Faldo, a three-time Masters champion himself. But this time, Faldo said, Woods had "no idea what to expect."
In fact, the Tiger saga took a bizarre new twist with the release of a new Nike ad yesterday.
The 30-second commercial uses the voice of Woods' late father - taken from a 2004 DVD biography of his son - to ask what much of America wants to know: "I want to know what your thinking was. I want to find out what your feeling are. And did you learn anything?"
"If you hate Tiger you are going to hate him more," Adweek critic Barbara Lippert said of the commercial. "On the other hand, if you like him and want him to come back, you think it's kinda great."
As wind and rain swept Augusta, Woods showed no serious rust from his five-month layoff. He quickly birdied the third hole and ended up three-under-par after nine holes - showcasing why he's dominated the pro tour for more than a decade, winning 71 times, including 14 majors.
Wood's unequaled star power pushed official prize money to $277 million last year, up 300 percent from when he first turned pro.
"In the last 12 years, he has done remarkable things for this game of golf; everybody has benefited," another PGA star, Phil Mickelson, said.
But it all came crashing down, forcing a once tightly-wound Woods to talk openly of deceit and discovery.
"It's not about championships," he said at a. "It's about how you live your life."
Thursday, it seemed Woods took a solid first step in, at least, reclaiming his title as the world's best golfer.