Tiger Woods has confirmed he will take part in the 2022 Masters on Thursday, marking a sensational return to top-level golf.
The 15-time Major champion has stunned the sports world in recent days as he prepares to play at Augusta, just 14 months after a car crash that could have claimed his life.
Many feared that Woods, arguably the greatest golfer in history, would never compete again after driving his vehicle at 85mph in February 2021, nearly resulting in the amputation of his right leg.
The 46-year-old spent three months in a hospital bed and was admitted in ‘dark times’ during an excruciating rehabilitation process, which is still ongoing, but another miraculous recovery will see him return to golf’s biggest stage sooner than expected.
“Right now I feel like I’m going to play,” Woods said in his pre-tournament press conference on Tuesday.
When asked if he thought he could win a sixth green jacket this week, Woods replied, “Yes.”
He added: “I feel like if I can still compete at the highest level I’m going to, but if I feel like I can’t, you won’t see me here.
“I don’t show up to an event unless I think I can win it.”
Crowds in Augusta gathered in their hundreds to watch the legendary golfer practice at the famous course this week, after he revealed a ‘game time’ decision would be made on whether or not to participate .
Woods plans to play nine more practice holes on Wednesday, and having done everything in his power to play, it seems a decision on Woods’ ability to endure the coming week will still be made at the very last minute. .
But barring a late setback, he’ll play – which is a really big thing in golf.
As recently as February, Woods seemed to rule out an imminent return to elite golf, insisting his body was not ready for the demands of a tournament week.
The five-time Masters winner competed alongside his son Charlie in the 36-hole PNC Championship in December 2021, finishing second, and needed a buggy to navigate the course.
Woods was hitting discs north of 300 yards and generating ball speeds of 170 mph, good enough to match PGA Tour standards, but walking was still a problem.
With Augusta among the hilliest major championship venues and being the first of four major events on the calendar, a flat St Andrew’s in July for the 150th Open was seen as a more likely comeback stage.
However, speculation has increased over the past two weeks as Woods has remained in masters territory, keeping quiet about whether or not he will play.
Video emerged of the American walking his hometown medal run in Florida and the excitement peaked when he traveled to Augusta for a practice round last week, before going into a total frenzy in recent days.
He’s been forced to struggle with his body for most of his illustrious career, but even making the cut at this year’s Masters would surely rank among his greatest accomplishments.
The Hall of Fame icon returned from multiple back surgeries, including spinal fusion, to win the 2019 Masters.
In 2008, Woods won the US Open at Torrey Pines with two leg stress fractures and a torn ACL in his knee.
The 82-time PGA Tour winner is never interested in making up numbers and his knowledge of Augusta may have some dreaming of a win to end all wins.
However, Woods hasn’t struck a rage since the November 2020 Masters 17 months ago – and the golf world doesn’t know what to expect.
He added: “The fact that I was able to get here at this stage has been a success and now that I’m playing it’s all focused on getting this position on the back nine on Sunday with a chance like I have. ‘ve done a few years since.
“I feel like I can still do it. I still have the hands to do it, the body moves quite well. I’ve been in worse situations and won tournaments.
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