Tiger Woods looked ‘phenomenal’ in practice at Augusta, says Fred Couples


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Golfer Fred Couples is optimistic about Tiger Woods’ appearance at the 2022 Masters this week, saying he looked “phenomenal” in his practice on Monday.

Woods has been the center of attention at Augusta National Golf Club as speculation continues to grow over the five-time champion’s epic return to the Masters. On Monday, he had a practice round with Couples, the 1992 Masters champion, and Justin Thomas, the 2017 PGA champion.

“He looked phenomenal,” Couples said of Woods, via ESPN. “What impressed me the most was that he was bombarding him. I know JT isn’t the longest hitter on the tour, but I know he’s damn long. He was with him , rinsing it.”

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Fred Couples watches Tiger Woods play the second hole during a practice round for the Masters golf tournament Monday, April 4, 2022 in Augusta, Georgia.
(AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

“Hopefully it will continue on Tuesday and Wednesday, and I’m sure it will start on Thursday,” Couples added.

During the practice round, Woods hit five of seven fairways and five of nine greens, and appeared to show no visible signs of pain, Couples said. Although Woods reportedly walked with a slight limp.

“He’s kind of badass,” Couples said. “He’ll never let you know he’s in pain. He looked good walking. You can still hurt, but to hit him like that, now that’s just the walking part. If he can walk here for 72 holes, he’ll argue. He’s too good.

Woods has yet to play in a competitive PGA Tour event since sustaining traumatic leg injuries in a car crash in late February 2021. Woods was recovering from fifth back surgery when he crashed his SUV on a median on a suburban coastal road in Los Angeles. The SUV tumbled down the side of a hill. Doctors said Woods shattered his tibia and fibula bones in the accident.

The couples said he was surprised that Woods was already back in Augusta after his accident. He said Woods texted him Sunday inviting him to Monday’s practice round.

AS TIGER WOODS MASTERS SPECULATION REACHES FEVER, HE HAS REVEALED THE OBSTACLE HE MUST OVERCOME

“I have a back problem,” Couples said. “I’ve been working there since I was in my thirties. What he’s had is back problems, a couple of surgeries and then a horrible car accident. So he’s the first to say to you, ‘I’ lucky to be alive, lucky to be with my kids’, and now he’s playing.”

Tiger Woods tees off on the seventh hole during a practice round for the Masters golf tournament Monday, April 4, 2022 in Augusta, Georgia.

Tiger Woods tees off on the seventh hole during a practice round for the Masters golf tournament Monday, April 4, 2022 in Augusta, Georgia.
(AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

“I don’t know the right word. It’s not shocking because he’s the greatest player to ever play,” added Couples. “You give him a few good minutes, you give him a few good legs, and he swings like that. Now comes the walking part. I’m not going to make an estimate. I looked at him today and he had the phenomenal look.”

For Woods, the only small dose of competition he has had on the course this year has been when he competed in the PNC Championship with his son Charlie. Woods was spotted landing in Augusta, Georgia last week, sparking speculation he could return to competitive play.

On Sunday, Woods tweeted that his return to the 2022 Masters would be a “game decision”.

“I will travel to Augusta today to continue my preparation and training. It will be a game time decision if I compete,” he wrote.

Woods was in Augusta on Sunday afternoon, driving the ball and giving the tough course a chance. Golfer Billy Horschel gave a good report on Woods’ appearance on the course.

Tiger Woods putts on the fourth green during a practice round for the Masters golf tournament Monday, April 4, 2022 in Augusta, Georgia.

Tiger Woods putts on the fourth green during a practice round for the Masters golf tournament Monday, April 4, 2022 in Augusta, Georgia.
(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

“He looked good to me,” former FedExCup champion Billy Horschel, who watched Woods hit balls on Sunday afternoon, said via PGATour.com. “He looked like the Tiger we saw before the crash…the way the swing looked and the speed.”

Woods has made 23 career starts at the Masters, where he finished 14 in the top-10. He donned his first green jacket in 1997 aged 21 and again in a career comeback in 2019 aged 43.

Woods also won the Masters in 2001, 2002 and 2005. He last played in the tournament in 2020.

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The first round of the 86th Masters begins on April 7 and ends on April 10. Hideki Matsuyama is the defending champion.

Fox News’ Ryan Gaydos contributed to this report


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