The Return of Tiger and The Hollywood Ending

The 2010 Masters could have turned out a lot of ways. Think back just one week, to last Sunday night... when it was anyone's guess.

The excitement was electrifying on the eve of Tiger's return as players arrived at Augusta National from around the world. Some speculated that the cloistered course and it's privileged patrons would be plagued by the Paparazzi, and that the beleaguered returning golf champion, would be harassed by heckling fans.

Then came the press conference. A terse confrontation was anticipated and had some scribes salivating, but in the end Tiger's detractors failed to ask the really tough questions.

In the days that followed, it became clear that the fans in Augusta were, for the most part, on Tiger's side, as were his fellow players. Overall, Mr. Woods was welcomed back warmly.

As the week progressed scandal and salaciousness took a back seat to brilliant golf and Tiger took his place on the fairways and greens. He appeared a bit rusty and did not seem particularly repentant. His golf was at turns dazzling... at turns disappointing. Ultimately, he did much better than many had predicted he would.

Lee Westwood, KJ Choi, Fred Couples and Anthony Kim each had role to play in Augusta and they each played their roles perfectly, but early on it became clear; there was only one sentimental favorite, and that was Phil Mickelson.

As the Masters got underway, Mr. Mickelson's chances didn't look good. His performance, thus far this year, had been fairly abysmal. So much so, that one reader wrote of his prospects, "He doesn't have a Snowball's Chance in Hell of Winning The Masters, he may as well not even show up."

But he did show up... and he brought with him many of those memorable Mickelson moments that produce the implausible, awesome outcomes. He also brought along his children... and his beautiful blonde wife Amy, currently undergoing cancer treatment.

And there's your classic Hollywood ending, improbable in its perfect, positive simplicity and heralding the return of one of the golf's most exciting rivalries.

The 2010 Masters tournament was as good as it gets.

Photos: Harry How, Andrew Redington/Getty Images North America