Tiger Woods says he's coming back

NEW YORK (AP) - There seems to be one overwhelming sentiment among golf fans who heard that Tiger Woods will make his return at the Masters. Welcome back.

On the driving ranges and golf courses in South Florida, where the playing season lasts all year, Woods was the big topic of conversation Tuesday after he said he feels ready to start his season at Augusta National.

Nearly every player who spoke with The Associated Press after Woods released his statement said they were looking forward to watching him next month at the year's first major.

Scottish vacationer Sue Ferguson-Pagan hopes this means talk of the sex scandal that rocked golf the past four months may finally be coming to an end.

Woods' return to golf is also a long-awaited boon to sponsors that stood by him and marketers that stand to get big exposure from the Masters audience.

The two sponsors who've stuck most closely by him, Nike and Electronic Arts, say they look forward to his return. It's especially timely for EA, whose next edition of its Woods video game is scheduled for release in June.

Syracuse University sports marketing Professor Rick Burton says Woods can show he's an athlete again, which will take some of the focus off his personal problems.

Woods is one of the top-earning athletes of all time. Reports of his infidelities made him take a leave of absence from golf last fall.

He lost sponsors including consulting firm Accenture and PepsiCo.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)