Match Play practice begins without Tiger Woods

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The practice round of the Accenture Match Play Championship officially began Monday. That's exactly what brought thousands to Marana's Ritz-Carlton Golf Club to see some of golf's biggest names.

With a notable exception - Tiger Woods.

Yes, fans would have to wait until Tuesday to see the tournament's defending champion and the number one player in the world.

Same goes for those of us who work in the media.

"Yeah as soon as he announced on Thursday that this was gonna be his return, our media requests went through the roof," said Laura Hillk, PGA Tour Executive Director of Communication. "It probably added about 20 percent to what was already a big number anyway."< /p>

The match play championship itself is already an international event, but with Woods making his return after a nine month layoff, this week holds special meaning.

"His return is gonna be the biggest story in sports," Hill said. "Not just golf, and it's certainly turning out to look that way."< /p>

So during Monday's "pre-Tiger" practice round, the name of the game was "fun," for all the golf-loving, merchandise buying, autograph seeking fans at the course.

"We were hoping he'd be here but it wouldn't have mattered," said Raymond Bordonaro, a golf fan from New York. "We would've been here regardless."

After all, not everybody has fallen victim to Tiger-mania.

"No," said Carli Keufler of Marana. "Not that I don't want to, but it's just not my thing."

The same can't be said about her little brother Maxx who gets brownie points for telling the truth.

"If I can find somebody to bring me, I might be able to stay home from school tomorrow and come back here," said 9-year-old Maxx Keufler.