Tiger Woods' Return to Augusta a 'Slap in the Face to Women'?

After repeated calls to weigh in on the controversy, Woods repeatedly tried to stay out of the debate.

In November 2002, Woods said he believed membership should be extended to women. Despite his standing as the world's most prominent golfer, Woods said he had little influence on Augusta National's decision.

"I think there should be women members," Woods told reporters at the time. "But it's not up to me. I don't have voting rights; I'm just an honorary member."

"As I've said before, everyone is entitled to their own opinion," he said.

Despite the storm of interest and outrage directed at the club seven years ago, the policy to exclude women members remains in place.

Augusta National would not comment on the policy, telling ABC News.com, " the club does not discuss membership issues."

Tiger Woods' Return: at Augusta, Which Excludes Women

In what is predicted to be the most-watched Masters Tournament ever, some observers say fans will concentrate on Woods and not Augusta National's membership policy.

"For better or worse, this issue didn't get any traction in 2003," said Jim Gorant, the golf editor at Sports Illustrated. "People will distinguish between the Masters and the club. They can put aside what they believe when it comes to the tournament.

"No one is putting Tiger and his problems together with Augusta's policies. People are excited to see him come back, they're curious to see him come back. The immediacy of the problems with his marriage overwhelms any of the politics at Augusta," he said.

Woods' troubles began Nov. 27, when a late-night car accident near his Orlando, Fla., home exploded into allegations about marital infidelity. Days later, Woods announced he would take an "indefinite leave" of absence from golf.

In his time away from the links, outrage over Woods' admitted "transgressions" has ebbed and flowed, though interest in the most puerile details of his sex life has remained high.

In a recent ABC News poll, 65 percent of respondents said they wanted to see Woods return to golf this season.

Women, however, were more likely to see Woods in an unfavorable light given his recent history.

Twenty-nine percent of men and 37 percent of women said they see Woods unfavorably, according to the poll.

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