Tiger Woods hasn’t competed all year due to back issues and a serious car crash in February of last year, but multiple sightings and a promising recovery have fueled hope that the 15-time major winner is getting set for a return to the game.
Excitement is growing that his spectacular comeback could take place at The Masters next week in Augusta, Georgia, where he’s won five times.
Eagle eyes spotted Woods’ private plane at the local airport and anticipation has been reaching a fever pitch since the legendary golfer’s 18-hole practice round this week with peer Justin Thomas (and Tiger’s talented son, Charlie), along with his caddie, Joe LaCava, being spotted around the course.
Per sources, Tiger Woods will be competing at this years Masters Tournament in Augusta, GA ooooOOOOOoooo(ghost noise) — Ghost Of Leroy (@LeroyInsider) March 31, 2022
Tiger Woods has been careful to set realistic expectations about a possible comeback, saying that a full-time return to the PGA Tour would be unrealistic. If and when he does return, he will be prioritizing his less frequent appearances.
One of those priorities is sure to be The Masters, the last tournament Tiger Woods played, back in November 2020 (rescheduled due to the pandemic). The 46-year-old has also been dealing with back issues for several years now, which he was recovering from before the near-fatal car crash that crippled his foot and leg.
The back issues are always a pending risk that can creep up at any time again, making any future appearances treasured occurrences.
Lots of reports coming out of Augusta have said that Woods himself is determined to play The Masters once the tournament begins April 7.
With all the negative fallout from Phil Mickelson’s supposed suspension from the game and omitted from the current players roster, a triumphant return for Tiger Woods at Augusta National would be a welcome change in the golf narrative and a seismic shift in the sport at just the right time.
He and Phil are the only current players who hold more than five majors. Conjectured eagerness is likely to grow all week since golfers have until the week of the event to withdraw from the tournament, as Tiger Woods did at the last minute in 2016, when he missed all four majors for the first time in his career due to his back.
He also pulled out of The Masters in 2017 the weekend before. But for now, the golfing legend’s name remains on the active register and let’s hope this is not some sick April Fool’s joke (I think fans would revolt if it were).
There’s plenty to give us hope, with Tiger Woods thrilling fans last December when he played alongside his son, Charlie, at the 2021 PNC Championship, finishing in second place behind John Daly and his son John Daly II.
Can we all agree that any April fools jokes about the status of Tiger Woods in the Masters are off limits for tomorrow — Ethan Shapiro (@EthanShapiro7) March 31, 2022
Woods had to use a golf cart to assist with his mobility issues due to the leg and foot injuries, but the sports legend said the ability to walk the entire 18-holes would condition his return to PGA competition, no small feat considering the fitness required to repeat this goal four days or more in a row.
"I was very limited in what I could do there," Woods said last month, via Sports Illustrated’s Bob Harig, according to Fox Sports. "Being out here on Tour, you get exposed. And that’s the beauty of this sport, you get exposed.
There are no carts, and you have to work your way around it, you have to be fit enough to be able to do this sport at a high level. You have to practice at a high level to come out here and win, and I have not done any of that."
Woods has walked Augusta multiple times this week already and word has it that his game is back in the zone.
If he decides not to play, and with Mickelson on hiatus from the PGA, that will mean two of the biggest legends in the game will be missing, which hasn’t happened since 1994.
🚨#NEW: “What I’ve heard from people in South Florida - the actual game itself; ball speed, club head speed, it’s all there, it’s all back”.
The Masters is set to start on April 7 and conclude April 10. Hidecki Matsuyama is looking to defend the title he won last year. So far, Tiger’s only committed to attending the Champions Dinner on Tuesday of the tournament week.
CBS announcer Jim Nantz said it would be an “amazing achievement” if Tiger plays at Augusta.
Do we dare hope we can declare that Tiger Woods is back? Or dare to dream that he can don that eminent green jacket for a sixth time? Every day brings us one step closer to the impossible.