It's official: Tiger Woods WILL play The Masters

Tiger Woods Masters

Tiger Woods has confirmed that he WILL make his long-awaited return to golf at this week's Masters Tournament.

The 15-time major champion - five times a winner at Augusta National - met with the media this morning where, as expected, he announced his intention to peg it up in Thursday's opening round. 

"As of right now, I feel like I'm going to play," said the 46-year-old. "My recovery has been good. I've been very excited about how I've recovered each and every day, and that's been the challenge."

With the exception of an appearance in the PNC Championship in December, Woods, 46, has not played a competitive round of golf since sustaining catastrophic injuries in a single-car accident in February 2020.

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His injuries were so severe that doctors discussed amputating one of his legs.

Fourteen months later, he is preparing to mount a challenge for a record-equalling sixth Masters victory, a record-setting 83rd official PGA Tour victory, and a 16th major championship in all.

He likes his chances, too.

Asked if he believes he can win this week, his answer was short, simple and emphatic.

"I do."

Woods hasn't played a top-tier tour event since the COVID-delayed November Masters of 2020. However, he insists that he's ready to go.

"I can hit it just fine. I don't have any qualms about what I can do physically from a golf standpoint. It's now walking is the hard part. This is normally not an easy walk to begin with. Given the condition that my leg is in, it gets even more difficult.

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"You know, 72 holes is a long road, and it's going to be a tough challenge and a challenge that I'm up for.

"I love competing, and I feel like if I can still compete at the highest level, I'm going to, and if I feel like I can still win, I'm going to play. But if I feel like I can't, then you won't see me out here. You guys know me better than that."

Woods added that part of his motivation for getting back to this level of golf has been the right - indeed, the privilege - to walk away from the game on his own terms.

"When I decide to hang it up, when I feel like I can't win anymore, then that will be it," he said. "But I feel like I can still do it. I feel like I still have the hands to do it. The body's moving good enough. I've been in worse situations and played and won tournaments.

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"Now, I haven't been in situations like this where I've had to walk and endure what I'm going to try and endure. That's going to be different. It's a different challenge.

But my back surgeries that I've had before and the stuff I had to play through, even going back to the [2008] US Open when my leg was a little bit busted, those are all times that I can draw upon where I was successful, how I've learned to block things out and focus on what I need to focus on. That's certainly going to be the challenge this week."

Analysis

Michael McEwan at Augusta National

In 2019, Woods defied all expectations when he won his fifth Green Jacket.

Should he win this week, he would emulate the achievement of Jack Nicklaus, who won his sixth Masters at the same age Tiger is now. Parallels would be inevitably be drawn with Ben Hogan, who won the US Open in 1950, just 16 months after his own near-tragic car accident.

In short: a win for Tiger Woods - a winner here 25 years ago on his first major start as a professional golfer - would be arguably the greatest achievement in the history of sport.

That's "sport". Not "golf".

You say he couldn't? Tsk! You should know better than that by now.

You never, ever count out Tiger.

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