Caddie Joe LaCava and Tiger Woods share a laugh on the 18th green during the final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational golf tournament on March 18.
Caddie Joe LaCava and Tiger Woods share a laugh on the 18th green during the final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational golf tournament on March 18. Phelan M. Ebenhack

Aussies anticipating Tiger's presence at the Masters

FORMER champion Adam Scott will tee it up at Augusta National knowing this will be a Masters unlike any other.

Scott, who in 2013 became the first Australian to don the green jacket, has seen it all in 16 previous visits.

But with 14-time major winner Tiger Woods back from the brink of retirement to once again be a force, Scott admits he hasn't felt such anticipation from the sporting world in a long time.

"Absolutely, I think there's going to be a real buzz up there,” Scott said of Woods, who had spinal fusion surgery not long after last year's Masters.

He sat on the sidelines for 10 months and it seemed golf's popularity joined him.

Last month, the US PGA Tour's Arnold Palmer Invitational enjoyed a 136 per cent boost in US television ratings from the 2017 edition.

A primary reason for the spike was Woods - an eight-time winner at Bay Hill - mounting a vintage final-round charge to come within one shot of the lead on the back nine.

Woods' share of fifth place was his final hit-out before the Masters, which he hasn't played since 2015.

It capped an unprecedented injury return, which included a runner-up finish in Tampa, Florida the week prior, as well as strong showings at the Honda Classic and Torrey Pines.

Scott believes Woods' presence will bring another dimension to golf's flagship tournament.

"There's no doubt Tiger will add to that - he hasn't played the Masters for three years and he's playing nicely,” he said. "Everybody is going to be watching to see how Tiger performs.”

Winners on the US Tour this year include Bubba Watson, Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy, Australia's Jason Day and Paul Casey, as well as Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas.

"There are a lot of guys showing some form that would be on everyone's list as a favourite to win at Augusta,” Scott added.

But there is only one player 11-time US Tour winner and former world No.1 Day dreams of facing on the back nine in the final round.

"I think there's more hype around Tiger now,” Day said.

"It was always big, but people were used to him winning. Now he's officially back, it feels bigger.”

A close friend of Woods, Queenslander Day feels the American's long-awaited victory - he last lifted a trophy in 2013 - will come on one of his happy hunting grounds.

Woods has won the Masters four times, equal with Arnold Palmer as second only to Jack Nicklaus (six).

"He looks like he's picked up exactly where he left off on those places he has had success on,” Day said.

"I'm looking forward to Augusta - it's a place Tiger has played well and I'd love the chance to come up against him.”

Also eager for a crack at toppling Woods is Marc Leishman, who joins Brisbane youngster Cameron Smith in rounding out the four-man Australian contingent at Augusta.

Leishman first played with Woods in the final round at the 2009 BMW championship and was beaten comprehensively.

But the 34-year- old Victorian won the BMW event last year and, with two other US Tour titles under his belt, he feels better equipped than ever to take on Woods.

"I feel like I'm a lot better player now - I've got the game to take it up to him,” Leishman said.

"Having played with him a few times and knowing him is an advantage, especially for the intimidation factor.”