It was also the first time Chuck fans could really see the hand of Nike, Converse owner, in their favourite shoe. When it acquired Converse for US$305 million in 2003, Nike kept the brand management team intact and has since left Converse largely to its own devices. The Chuck II features Nike Lunarlon footbeds and was the result of 18 months of true corporate research and hand wringing.
Get Sport updates directly to your inboxSubscribeSee our privacy noticeThank you for subscribing!THE aeroplane circling above Augusta National didn’t seem significant at first. Not until the banner unfurled behind it to prove you’re never too high to take a rise out of Tiger Woods.Comedians will tell you timing is everything and the mystery joker who chartered this flight got his spot on.The plane appeared 10 minutes before Woods was due to tee off his long awaited golfing comeback after his exposed philandering led to a five month absence, a sex addiction clinic and a convenient rediscovery of his religion.The message flapping in the wind was about to poke fun at all of it: “Tiger, did you mean Bootyism?” Rather than Buddhism, presumably, and Woods must have seen it as he emerged through a rabble of fans who parted like the Red Sea to make way for the stony faced world No.1 as he strode towards the practice green.If he did miss that one he wouldn’t have to wait long to see the same plane return with another banner, this time proclaiming: “Sex addiction, yeah right. Me too!”Credit to the mastermind behind it for pulling off such an elaborate mickey taking stunt but it was the only real instance of negative feeling towards Woods as the most eagerly anticipated moment in sport this year passed without much incident behind the ropes at least.The enormous cheer that greeted him on to the tee set the tone for a consistently warm support from crowds clearly just delighted to have the biggest draw in the sport back where he belongs.The bookies fancied Tiger to come flying out of the traps, making him pre tournament favourite, and he showed flashes of the brilliance we have come to expect.Moments like the stunning approach to the ninth that he drew around a tree to land 10 feet from the pin and set up a birdie.Or the pair of eagles he chalked up at the eighth and 15th the first time he’s managed two in the same round at The Masters.It could have been even more spectacular had another eagle chance not lipped out on 13.And a few instances of ring rust resulted in three bogeys that stopped an impressive round becoming utterly spectacular.But it was more than good enough as a stunning 68 Woods’ best opening round at Augusta placed him right in the hunt on four under, just two shots off the lead.Say what you like about his recent conduct, whether with the use of a plane or otherwise, but you have to tip your cap to a guy who can pull a performance like this out of the bag having not played a competitive round since winning the Australian Masters on November 14.He wasn’t the only one springing a few surprises on a remarkable day of dramatic stories.