Tiger Woods Tees Off at Masters With Drive Into Fairway

Woods returns to the golf tour as a controversial Nike commerical airs.

ByABC News via logo
April 7, 2010, 3:58 PM

April 8, 2010 — -- Tiger Woods teed off at the Masters Tournament today, sending the ball into the fairway in his first drive in a competition in five months.

The crowd at Augusta National greeted Woods, the world's top pro golfer, with a round of applause as he walked up to the tee.

One fan shouted "Make us proud," The Associated Press reported.

Woods wore a striped Nike polo shirt, supporting the company that has continued to sponsor the scandal-plagued star.

Nike released a commercial last night that features the voice of Woods's dead father.

The 33-second black and white ad shows Woods facing the camera while the voice of his father, who died in 2006, is played.

"Tiger, I am more prone to be inquisitive, to promote discussion," Earl Woods says. "I want to find out what your thinking was. I want to find out what your feelings are. Did you learn anything?"

The commercial is evocative, but using Nike's money and the voice of Wood's late father to help rebuild the golfer's image is also controversial.

"[I was] a little bit surprised but it is typical for the way Nike has done its advertising. And if you are going to stay with a guy, more people are watching now than ever before. So if you've made that decision at the beginning, might as well keep and run through with it," ESPN golf anchor Mike Tirico said on "Good Morning America" today.

Earl Woods posthumously has appeared in Nike ads with his son before. The month after his death in May 2006, a Nike commercial featured Woods family photos and home movies that showed Earl Woods and a pint-sized Tiger Woods enjoying each others' company on the course and off.

In a statement, Nike said it supports Woods and his family and that the most recent ad, "addresses his time away from the game using the powerful words of his father."

Larry Woodard, chief executive officer of Graham Stanley Advertising, called the commercial a "brilliant piece of theater" while others had less enthusiastic words.

One man told ABC that he could picture his own father asking him the same exact questions while a woman called the ad "disgusting" and said it exploited his father.

Tirico was not surprised that people had such extreme reactions to the ad.

"Some people will say great, you are addressing it, you are not putting your head in the sand as a corporate sponsor or you individually," Tirico said. "I think other people, some of the folks who are predisposed to not be pulling for Tiger as he returns to the golf course, are going to feel even farther in [the other] direction."