Tiger Woods. Pic: Augusta National
Augusta, GA, April: “As of right now, I feel like I am going to play,” said Tiger Woods, at a Press Conference, where there was no vacant chair even 20 minutes before he entered the room at the Augusta National Golf Club.
The words were on expected lines, but the lines needed to come from Woods straight and not the grapevine. Yet, there seemed to be a slight hedging there, but that is Woods.
On a day, when the Champions meet for their traditional dinner, the menu of which is decided by the defending champion (Hideki Matsuyama this year), practice was called off around 11 am because of the threat of a thunderstorm.
Sitting down in front the media, which has hungered for his time since news filtered in his of possible appearance at the 2022 Masters, Woods said, “It’s hard to believe it’s been 25 years since I won here, but it’s great to be back and be able to feel the energy and the excitement of the patrons again.
“I hadn’t seen them since when I won, and obviously we had a COVID year and I missed last year. So it was neat to feel that energy out there on the golf course yesterday (Monday practice). Hopefully this (thunderstorm) storm blows out of here, and we get to have a great week.”
Woods has already played 27 holes and plans to play another nine before the course closes down ahead of Thursday’s first round in what would be his first big event since the 2020 Masters.
Without commenting on his game or the mental strength to win a 16th Major, the two areas that are a given whenever he swings a club, Woods made it clear that the hard part was him being be able to walk the course.
Woods, 46, signalled his determination to play the main tournament after a practice round on Monday and another stint on Tuesday before his news conference.
At Tuesday’s press conference he said wouldn’t be gearing up to play if he didn’t think he could win. Yet, at the 2021 Hero World Challenge, Woods had already made clear his days of playing competitively every weekend were over.
Woods smashed the bones in his right leg and needed a rod and multiple screws and pins in his ankle to be able to walk, and then some limp is sometimes still visible. That happened in February 2021.
He and his son, Charlie were second to Team Daly at the PNC Championship. In his only competition of any kind since the 2020 Masters.
In 23 starts at the Masters, Woods has won five, been in Top-10 14 times and the gap between the first Masters win in 1997 and the fifth one in 2019 was 22 years. “It’s amazing that it has been 25 years since I won the first time here,” said Woods.
The 86th Masters begins April 7 and runs through April 10 with Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama returning as the defending champion.