Tiger Woods: ‘As of right now, I feel like I’m going to play’ at the Masters

Tiger Woods, the golf legend who just over 13 months ago damaged his right leg so badly that doctors considered amputation, said on Tuesday that “as of right now” he feels like he is “going to play” at the Masters, setting the stage for a return to the PGA Tour unlike any other at the iconic tournament.

Speculation over whether Woods would compete at Augusta National had been building since late March, sparked by three-time Masters champion Phil Mickelson removing himself from the list of players who plan to compete.

At that time, Woods was still on the active invited players list, though there had been no substantial indication he was ready to play in his first major since the accident that damaged his leg, leading many to conclude his inclusion on the list merely stemmed from him not asking to be removed from it. The Masters, unlike other PGA Tour events, does not have a firm deadline to commit to competing. Because it is an invitation tournament, players typically notify the club only if they do not plan to play.

But the possibility of Woods chasing another Green Jacket, which he first won 25 years ago, reached new heights when he flew to Augusta last Tuesday, saying he was heading to the course to continue his “preparation and practice” and that it would be “a game-time decision” on whether he competed.

The 15-time major champion has cultivated a reputation throughout his illustrious career for finding victory under challenging circumstances. The most recent of his five Masters wins, in 2019, marked his first major tournament victory in 11 years and came after undergoing multiple back and knee surgeries. Just two years prior, he had been ranked as low as 1,119th in the world.

Still, in an improbable and unparalleled career of dizzying highs and jarring lows, making a return from a harrowing injury at the age of 46 — especially at Augusta National, a long course known for its unforgiving elevation changes at nearly every hole — always posed a daunting challenge.

Woods, while recovering from a fifth back surgery in February 2021, drove his sport-utility vehicle over a median at high speed and it tumbled down a hillside in a Los Angeles-area coastal suburb. His right leg was severely damaged, with open fractures in several places of the tibia and fibula. He spent a month in the hospital, and has said that doctors considered the possibility the leg may have to be amputated.

“I’m still working on the walking part,” Woods said in mid-February, before the Genesis Invitational. “My foot was a little messed up there about a year ago, so the walking part is something that I’m still working on, working on strength and development in that. It takes time. What’s frustrating is it’s not at my timetable. I want to be at a certain place, but I’m not. I’ve just got to continue working.”

As the arduous rehabilitation process unfolded, Woods has appeared sparsely, managing expectations — external and, perhaps, internal — about his potential return to the tour.

In December, Woods played 36 holes with his son, Charlie, at the PNC Championship. The format for the tournament was substantially different than the Masters, though, and allowed for the use of a cart instead of having to walk to each hole. During the event, Woods limped and struggled on some drives to push off with his right leg.

Earlier, in mid-November, Woods posted a short video on social media of himself taking a swing, saying that he hoped to eventually play competitive golf again but stopping short of offering a timetable for when that could happen. He also ruled out a full-time return to the PGA Tour.

“I’ve had a pretty good run,” Woods said in November, then nine months removed from the crash. “I don’t see that type of trend going forward for me. It’s going to have to be a different way. I’m at peace with that. I’ve made the climb enough times.”

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