Tiger Woods plans to play in the Masters Tournament

Augusta, GA – Tiger Woods hasn’t played a competitive golf tournament in 17 months. He has, he said Tuesday, “devices” in his right leg, anchor rods and screws that have helped him recover from One devastating car accident Only 14 months ago. He was in a hospital bed for three months. His movement is limited. He is 46 years old.

Does he think he can win the Masters this week?

On Tuesday morning, Woods confirmed the one news that could single-handedly transform the Masters from the first major golf tournament of the year into a major sporting event: He is recovering from his serious injuries After being involved in a car accident in California in February 2021, he intends to attempt to compete in the Masters Championship, which begins on Thursday in which he will be in pursuit of a record sixth green jacket.

“As of now, I feel like I’m going to play,” Woods said during a 25-minute press conference here. “I will play nine more holes tomorrow. My recovery has been good; I have been very excited about how I am recovering each day.”

Shortly thereafter, the master’s officials were released Start times for the first two rounds. Woods plays at 10:34 am Thursday, joined by South African Louis Oosthuizen and Chilean Joaquin Neiman. Triple play will begin at 1:41 p.m. Friday in Round Two.

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It was Woods’ last tournament Master’s program in 2020 that delayed the epidemicheld in November, when he tied for 38th place. After a little more than three months, he suffered comminuted open fractures to the tibia and fibula in his right leg after his car veered off a road in Southern California, breaking both bones into at least three pieces and puncturing the skin. Woods also suffered from foot and ankle injuries and said doctors have at one point considered amputation.

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He said Tuesday that he still had leg pain “every day”. His challenges are not only managing that pain, but resting and recovering enough from each round so that he can do it again the next day. When he debuted in Augusta as a teen, he was athletic and resilient. Now, he should run his body like an old man.

“It gets painful…because of the simple things I usually do, which now take a few hours here and two hours there to prepare and then relax,” Woods said. “So the activity time to do what I want to do, it adds more time on both sides – before and after -.”

Which was part of calculating whether he could compete.

“I think the fact that I was able to get myself here at this point is a success,” Woods said. “Now that you’re here, the focus is on Sunday in the back with a chance.”

For any of the other 90 players on the field, such an idea under the circumstances would be laughable. But over the course of his career that now spans a quarter-century — his first major Masters victory came 25 years ago, when he was just 21 — Woods has demonstrated a penchant for both the unexpected and the impossibly unexpected. He won the 2008 US Open with a broken leg, and Fifth win for the masters Came in 2019, after him He underwent five back surgeries.

However, he is probably familiar with Agusta National more than in his backyard. The challenge, he said, would not be to put the club’s face directly on the ball. His body would rotate around Augusta’s undulating and uneven terrain for four and a half hours four days in a row.

“I can hit it just fine,” Woods said. “I have no qualms about what I can do physically from a golf point of view. Walking is the hard part. … Seventy-two holes is a long way. It will be a tough challenge and a challenge I am for.”

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When Woods began introducing unprecedented length on a tee more than two decades ago, Augusta responded by lengthening the track. And those changes continue today – the tee in 4 par-4 is the furthest away this year – and contribute to the physical demands of playing the Masters, even for younger players.

“It’s a very difficult path to walk,” said 28-year-old Justin Thomas, a frequent partner at Woods. “It’s the toughest of the year. It’s so long, so hilly, a lot of hiking to the tees. … I added that along with some of the craziest ripples and vibes of any course we’ll be playing all year, it produces some very tired and sore legs at the end of the year. the week “.

The 508 days between tournaments would be the longest layoff in Woods’ career, as he issued 466 days of layoffs between August 2015 and December 2016 to deal with what have become his chronic back problems. Woods then did not compete seriously again until the 2017-18 PGA Tour season, when he scored eight of the Top 10 finals and a memorable win in the season-ending Tour Championship. He followed that up with his fifth Masters win in April 2019, which also marks his last win.

the forest announce Sunday that he was traveling to Augusta National to train for the second time in five days and that his participation in the Masters would be a “game time decision”. On Monday, he played a practice round with Thomas and fellow Masters champ Fred Coples, and walked the course with what was described as a slight limp (Woods would not be allowed to use a cart during the tournament). On Tuesday, he didn’t walk the course, and his work was confined to the training area before storms closed the practice rounds. He said he plans to play nine more holes on Wednesday.

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Who can win the green jacket? Smash the competitors.

“You don’t have to worry about hitting the ball or golfing,” Woods said. “I have to worry about the hills here. That is the challenge.”

It was Woods before He said that his career as a full-time professional golfer was over because he couldn’t “expect this leg to be what it used to be.” However, he added that he could see himself playing in the occasional PGA Tour events. in Decemberhe played in a casual father-son tournament with Charlie, using a buggy to get around the Florida track and finishing second behind John Daly and his son.

But since turning professional in 1996, he’s been clear about his own criteria: If he takes part in a tournament, he does so expecting to win. It seemed harsh when he was twenty years old. However, he never backtracked on it – and he isn’t now.

“If you feel like I can’t, you won’t see me out here,” Woods said.

He is here now for the 24th time as a player. His five green jackets only follow six Jack Nicklaus. He’s the only player who can show up under these circumstances, say the following and not get laughed out of the room.

“I don’t attend any event unless I think I can win it,” Woods said. “This is the situation I had. There will be a day when it won’t happen, and I will know when it happens.”

It’s not this week, Woods explained on Tuesday.

Bonestell reported from Washington.

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