Speculation as to whether Tiger Woods would play at The Masters golf tournament, which begins today at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia, became a confirmed story as the 46-year-old five-time Masters champion announced on Tuesday that he would be back on the venerable course competing for his 16th win at a major. Woods trails only Jack Nicklaus in major (The Masters, PGA Championship, U.S. Open and the British Open) victories. Nicklaus’ 18 are the most ever.
It is a surprising and remarkable occurrence given that Woods was involved in a near fatal single car accident outside of Los Angeles on Feb. 23 of last year. Woods suffered open fractures to both the upper and lower parts of his fibula and tibia in his right leg, and at the time faced possible amputation of the limb. A little over one year later, he will be stalking the greens of Augusta National.
“As of right now I feel like I am going to play, as of right now,” said Woods at a press conference at the course on Tuesday. “My recovery has been good. I’ve been very excited about how I’ve recovered each and every day. That’s been the challenge. That’s why I came up here and tested it out for 27 holes.”
Woods, who shocked the sports world by winning the Masters in 2019, his first championship at a major since capturing the U.S. Open in 2008, underwent four back surgeries between 2014 and 2017 that left his career in doubt.
“I can hit it just fine. I don’t have any qualms about what I can do physically from a golf standpoint,” said Woods ahead of his highly anticipated 10:34 a.m. tee-time today. “It’s now walking is the hard part.
“This is normally not an easy walk to begin with. Now given the conditions my leg is in, it gets a little more difficult. And you know…72 holes is a long road. It’s going to be a tough challenge and a challenge I’m up for.”
Woods, who won his first Masters title in 1997, is noted for his mental approach to the game and a high pain tolerance level having battled through numerous physical obstacles.
“The fact that I was able to get myself here at this point was a success and now that I am playing,” he said, “everything is focused on getting in that position on the back nine on Sunday with a chance like I did a few years ago.”