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Thursday, February 18, 2010 - 10:42am

Tiger Headed to Augusta?

The world will be watching on Friday as Tiger Woods announces his future plans for golf in his first public appearance since admitting to marital infidelity.

Augusta will certainly be watching. The Masters could be his first major tournament since the scandal first erupted in November.

People in the city's hospitality industry say that if he does return, they expect a media frenzy.

"I think that if he does play, the interest from the people wanting to know how well he can do under all the pressures that he's going to have to deal with...I think the curiosity seekers will be there," says Diane Starr, president of Corporate Quarters in Augusta, which coordinates lodging and other accommodations for visitors during Masters week.

And what if he doesn't play this year? Economic studies showed double digit percentage drops in the number of visitors at PGA tournaments when Woods laid out of the tour after knee surgery in 2008.

But that probably wouldn't happen in Augusta. The Masters is still one of the most exclusive and coveted tickets in the sports world.

If anything drops, it would likely be the amount of tourist dollars spent in the area. Last year, corporations cut back on spending shortly after Congress approved the federal bailouts of financial institutions and the automotive industry.

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