Tiger Woods is a great golfer.

In the tabloids, in the mainstream media, and in the minds and hearts of so many people, his transgressions off the course, his personal life, has been much maligned, and with good reason. To all of those people who looked up to the man as a symbol of everything they wanted to be, as a person, he failed.

He treated his wife poorly, even if he never did so directly, and he deceived more people than anyone should ever think of deceiving. Personally? Epic fail.

But, let’s repeat that first sentence one more time: Tiger Woods is a great golfer.

And at Augusta, at the Masters, the most iconic event on the golfing calendar and one of the most iconic event in relation to its sport in the world, that’s all that really matters.

He was applauded as he stepped into the tee box to begin his first competitive round in 144 days. His shots were applauded all day on Thursday as he battled to his best opening round — ever — at the Masters.

A couple of planes flew overhead to remind people of Woods’ off-course issues, and when he caught sight of them, he simply turned away. The personal turmoil that he must be going through, admittedly self-imposed, must be horrific. At every turn, people want to remind him of the mistakes he’s made in his personal life.

But on the course, everything appears to be as it should. He’s making birdies and eagles on a course that has been updated and fixed to prevent him from making so many birdies and eagles. He’s within an eagle of the lead (as of the start of play Friday).

It’s a weak human being that succumbs to the evils and pressures that Woods did.

But it’s a very strong human being who can battle through it.

I am not a spiteful person and I would never wish any ill will on anyone. I am also a believer in second chances, and I also believe that personal lives have become way too public with the advent of technology that allows us all to be put under a microscope at the whim of any want-to-be journalist with a video camera and a cell phone with direct speed dial to an Interne “news” site.

What happened in Woods’ personal life is no worse than what has happened in the personal lives of countless other athletes, politicians, actors, actresses and otherise normal, private citizens in this great country.

So what’s next?

How about we all move on. He made several poor life decisions, like so many of the rest of us have in our lives at one time or another. The fact that he’s in the public eye heightens the impact of his actions, but it does not eliminate the simple fact that he, and countless other athletes, actors, actresses and public figures are still human.

To err is human; to forgive, divine.

If Woods is willing to move forward, so should the rest of the reactionary majority in this country. He’s apologized. If he hadn’t, we’d chastize him for not admitting his mistakes. Yet he has, and p[eople are doubting the sincerity of said apology.

You can’t have it both ways.

The bottom line is that Woods is good for golf. The sport needs him to be relevent again. And if his first round at Augusta is any indication, even after a 144-day layoff and more public pressure and scrutiny than Barack Obama has received in recent weeks, he is.

Tiger Woods is a great golfer.