Tiger’s fight to play in Masters excites Augusta National

Published April 5, 2022
Tiger Woods of the United States walks during a practice round prior to the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club on April 4. — AFP
Tiger Woods of the United States walks during a practice round prior to the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club on April 4. — AFP
RORY McIlroy of Northern Ireland waits to putt on the driving range during a practice round for the Masters on Monday. — AP
RORY McIlroy of Northern Ireland waits to putt on the driving range during a practice round for the Masters on Monday. — AP

AUGUSTA (Georgia): Tiger Woods and the possibility of him making an incredible comeback heightened excitement at Augusta National on Monday as the first official practice rounds began for the 86th Masters.

A quarter-century after Woods won his first major title by an astonishing 12 strokes at Augusta National and launched “Tigermania”, the 15-time major champion is again electrifying the atmosphere at the famed course.

Woods suffered severe right leg injuries 14 months ago in a car crash, was hospitalised for weeks and unable to walk for months.

After using a cart while playing alongside son Charlie in an event last December, Woods tested his fitness to walk the hilly course last Tuesday with an 18-hole practice round at Augusta National alongside Charlie and friend Justin Thomas.

Woods had given no timetable for his return to competition, but the move hinted he felt his game was ready to contend for a sixth green jacket, which would match the career record set by Jack Nicklaus.

Woods wouldn’t commit to playing even as his confirmed on Sunday he would practice more.

Should Woods decide to play it would make terrific theatre, bringing the curtain up on the major season and providing a special spectacle for the Masters as it emerges from two years of Covid-19 restrictions.

If not for Woods, Rory McIlroy may well have had the pre-Masters spotlight on him, the Northern Irishman again arrives at Augusta bidding to complete the career Grand Slam.

Like Augusta’s famous azaleas, it is a storyline that pops up every April only for McIlroy to wilt as he did last year when he missed the cut.

This year McIlroy comes in as one of the hottest players on the PGA Tour but like everyone else is pondering the possibility of seeing Woods back in action.

“I think for golf and for the Masters tournament and for everyone, to have Tiger there would be phenomenal,” said McIlroy.

“Anything Tiger Woods does in the game of golf is heightened whenever he’s there. It would be awesome for him to be there. Obviously, no one knows but him if he can make it around and if he believes he can compete.”

Published in Dawn, April 5th, 2022

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