Tiger Woods practices at Augusta National, “season decision” on playing Masters

AUGUSTA, Ga. — Tiger Woods says it’s a “seasonal decision” whether to compete in the 86th Masters, which is scheduled to begin Thursday.

Woods, 46, announced the update in a tweet on Sunday, writing that he will be returning to Augusta National Golf Club “to continue my preparation and training.” Sources told ESPN that Woods played an 18-hole practice round at Augusta National on Tuesday.

Woods also congratulated Anna Davis, the teenager who won Saturday’s Augusta National Women’s Amateur.

The five-time Masters champion has not played for more than a year after he was seriously injured in a car accident outside of Los Angeles that nearly resulted in doctors amputating his right leg. Most recently, he took part in the finals of the 2020 Masters, held in November of the same year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Woods’ return to competitive golf would come on the 25th anniversary of his first Masters win in 1997, when he won by a record 12 strokes while shooting a tournament record 18 under par 270 over four rounds.

The Masters doesn’t have a firm deadline to commit to or withdraw from the tournament, giving Woods until his tee-off on Thursday to make a final decision.

It wouldn’t be the first time Woods has returned to professional golf at Augusta National after a long hiatus. After multiple knee and back surgeries, Woods won the 2019 Masters for his first major championship in 11 years.

Woods’ five Masters wins rank second in history; Jack Nicklaus won the green jacket six times between 1963 and 1986. Woods’ 15 major championships is also second behind Nicklaus’ 18.

“I think for golf and for the Masters tournament and for everyone else it would be phenomenal to have Tigers there,” Rory McIlroy told reporters in San Antonio earlier this week at the Valero Texas Open. “I think it just adds to the event. Obviously it does. Everything Tiger Woods does in the game of golf is amplified when he’s there. I mean it would be great for him to be there.”

Woods played a practice round at Augusta National on Tuesday with his son Charlie and PGA Tour player and close friend Justin Thomas.

Playing at Augusta National is considered one of the most difficult hikes in professional golf because of its length, hills, and slopes. After that round, a source told ESPN that Woods “really, really wants to play in the Masters.”

Bad weather is forecast for Augusta on Tuesday and Wednesday, so Woods and other players will likely try to get in their practice rounds on Sunday and Monday.

Woods has been working to regain strength in his right leg and foot for more than a year. He was seriously injured in a rollover wreck on February 23, 2021. The SUV he was driving crossed two oncoming lanes, hit a curb and uprooted a tree on a downhill track in Rolling Hills Estates, just outside of Los Angeles. He was wearing his seat belt and officers found him still seated in the SUV.

He was rushed to Harbor-UCLA Medical Center by ambulance with open fractures in the upper and lower tibia and fibula of his right leg. He told reporters at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas in late November that doctors nearly had to amputate his right leg.

“It’s changed,” Woods said during a press conference ahead of the Genesis Invitational in February. “My right leg doesn’t look like my left leg, let’s put it that way.”

Less than two months ago, Woods said he was frustrated with the speed of his recovery.

“I wish I could tell you when I play again,” Woods said. “I want to know, but I don’t know. My golf activity was very limited. I can chip and putt really well and hit short irons very well, but I haven’t done long stuff seriously. I’m still working.

“I’m still working on the running part. My foot was a little messed up there about a year ago, so I’m still working on the running part, working on strength and development in it. It takes time. The frustrating thing is that it’s not on my schedule. I want to be in a certain place, but I’m not. I just have to keep working. I’m getting better yeah But as I said, not at the speed and rate that I would like. They also add the age factor. They just don’t heal as quickly, which is frustrating.

During the February press conference, Woods said he focused on chipping, putting and hitting short irons, but couldn’t do much with a driver because his right leg wasn’t strong enough.

About a week ago, since-deleted video surfaced of Woods walking a round at Medalist Golf Club in Hobe Sound, Florida.

Woods has been through significant pain before. At the 2008 US Open in Torrey Pines, he won his 14th major championship title by defeating Rocco Mediate in sudden death after an 18-hole playoff. Woods later revealed he had been playing all week with two stress fractures in his tibia and a torn cruciate ligament in his left knee. He sustained the injuries after rushing back prematurely from arthroscopic knee surgery after the 2008 Masters.

He underwent reconstructive knee surgery just over a week after the US Open and missed the rest of the season.

https://www.espn.com/golf/story/_/id/33661937/tiger-woods-practice-augusta-national-game-decision-playing-masters Tiger Woods practices at Augusta National, “season decision” on playing Masters

Joel McCord

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