I admit it. At the sound of the glorious one-string acoustics and sight of the magnificent magnolias that signify nothing else but the Masters, I found myself cheering on none other than a Mr. Tiger Woods. And this was not just on Championship Sunday, but throughout the tournament, from the very start to the very end. I felt genuine nerves as he was warming up, legitimate butterflies as he began his ascent toward the first tee. And when it came to his famous Red Shirt Sunday, I, like many others, expected him to charge up the leader board to the top spot.

It’s not like I was rooting against Philliam the Lefty, or even what’s-his-name the British guy… I simply wanted Tiger to win. In its most simplistic form, I wanted to see an athlete overcome extreme adversity, hatred, pain and self-loathing to achieve success. I wanted to see him put it all behind him, and do what he does best — win. All this even though the trophy is a poorly tailored, pea-green jacket that would only Versace roll over in his grave at how atrocious it looks.

I mean, can’t the Masters take a page from the Olympics and tap Ralph Lauren to design a series of adorable sweater vests and jackets for the winner? I doubt Phil will wear his Green Jacket out, but a shawl cardigan with little golf clubs and the Masters’ logo on it would be a for sure go-to outfit. But I digress.

The fact is that it is considered blasphemy for any human being to root for Tiger, especially a woman. Though before I get all the feminist groups at my door (headed by Gloria Allred) I must stress the fact that in no way do I condone what he has done. I find his behavior, both on and off the field, over these last couple of years truly deplorable. I, like many others, have had it up to here with the “holier-than-thou” ‘tude that he has been running around the golf course with. And of course, his off-the-field exploits do not exactly win him “man of the year” in my book. But I am able to separate the man from the athlete; I can compartmentalize Tiger the person and Tiger the player.

Honestly, do not even get me started on how cowardly it is to blame one’s behavior on “sex addiction.” Actually, I’m sorry, “undisclosed problems” that he continues to get treatment for. The sex addiction bandwagon needs to be stopped, and the tires popped. Guys like Tiger, Jesse James, and now Big Ben Roethlisberger (who will surely join this motley crew) who post up at the Betty Ford clinic for “rehab” are ridiculous. Newsflash — we aren’t buying it, guys, because if sex addiction were a legitimate problem, then the greater male population would be visiting Ms. Betty as we speak.

Putting all that aside, I was ready for Tiger the athlete and golf superstar to take the Masters, because the comeback story is something that we value highly in our society. Quick to point fingers, but even quicker to help the fallen back up, Americans love the underdog. And even though Tiger was surely not the underdog in skill this weekend, he was in emotional appeal. As for wanting him to not only compete, but also to take the house, we cannot help it. We are a competitive group, valuing the pursuit, the goal, and ultimately the victory over everything else. And how dramatic would it be if the guy who we’ve all loved to hate over the last five months actually pulled it off?

True, on the outside we would have lamented the fact that he won. We would huddle together with friends, family and online buds discussing how karma seemingly took the weekend off. But on the inside we would secretly love it, hardly able to hold down the excitement of the return of golf’s prodigal son. Tiger running away with the Masters may have turned out to be merely a pipe dream — a figment of our overly hopeful imaginations. With that being said, who here can’t wait for the U.S. Open, when we will be able to go through this whole song and dance again? I know I can’t, and you can’t either.

Daily Nexus sporting columnist Julia Speace will probably return next week from her rehab stint for “undisclosed problems.”