Tiger Woods turning heads with signs pointing towards Masters return: ‘He smoked it’

Woods practiced on the grounds of Augusta National on Sunday.
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Tiger Woods looks to be in good shape should he decide to compete in this year’s Masters,

The Post’s Ian O’Connor reported that Woods would once again practice in Augusta, according to his caddie, Joe LaCava. Both LaCava and the Golf Channel’s Brandel Chamblee discussed that the 46-year-old has looked good on the green and shouldn’t be counted out if he plays.

“LaCava said that he expects Tiger to play some this afternoon, and that he likes the way his guy looks.,” O’Connor tweeted,

The tournament, which Woods has previously won five times, does not begin until Thursday and the legendary golfer said it would be a “game-time decision” whether he competes.

Woods, who was severely injured in a car accident last year, was unsure whether he would lose one of his legs following the crash. His return, not only to playing professional golf but simply practicing, has been lengthy.

On Sunday, Woods was spotted mingling with his possible competitors and playing the back nine.
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Chamblee tweeted that the high quality of Woods’ swing is particularly notable due to the nature of his injuries from the car crash.

“That’s a massive turn with the upper body for any tour pro, let alone a 46 year old recovering from a major injury and a history of back trouble. Looks to be clearing and extending beautifully as well. Heard he smoked it today. Extraordinary story if he plays,” Chamblee wrote.

On Sunday, Woods practiced on the grounds of Augusta National and was seen hitting balls, mingling with his possible competitors and playing the back nine.

The 46-year-old said he would decide closer to the tournament whether he would compete.
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Credit to www.nypost.com

On the Prowl? Tiger Arrives at Masters, Unsure of Playing

AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — A comeback unlike any other for Tiger Woods might start at the Masters.

Just over 13 months since Woods damaged his right leg so badly he said doctors considered amputation, Woods arrived at Augusta National on Sunday afternoon and warmed up on a range where there were more photographers than players.

Woods hit balls for about 20 minutes and then got in a cart and headed to the course, which is closed Sunday afternoon to everyone except players and caddies.

Already a star attraction, the hype over the five-time Masters champion is higher than ever after a violent single-car crash that looked as though it might end his career.

Still to come is the decision on playing.

In a tweet Sunday morning announcing he was coming to Augusta to resume preparations for the Masters, he said it will be a “game-time decision” whether he competes.

The Masters does not have a firm deadline to commit like regular tour events. It is an invitation tournament, and players typically notify the club only if they do not plan to play.

Tee times are published Tuesday.

“Knowing Tiger the way I know him, if he wasn’t totally like … pretty much feel he has a chance to win, he wouldn’t tee it up,” Mark O’Meara said. “The thing about Tiger Woods is usually when everybody thinks he can’t do something, that’s when he does it.”

If Woods decides to play — he played 18 holes at Augusta National five days ago — it would be his first competition against the world’s best players since Nov. 15, 2020, when the Masters was moved to autumn because of the pandemic.

Photographers and media waited at the far end of the viewing area on the range near the caddie house to see when he would arrive. Woods showed up on the other end, shaking hands with defending champion Hideki Matsuyama.

Tiger Woods smiles as he leaves the driving range during practice before the Masters golf tournament, Sunday, April 3, 2022, in Augusta, Ga. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Kevin Na and Billy Horschel were among those who came over to shake hands or hug him. Also on the range were Sungjae Im, Mackenzie Hughes and Jason Kokrak. Sunday afternoon before Masters week is a quiet time most years. Just not this one.

Woods was recovering from a fifth back surgery when on Feb. 23, 2021, two days after he presented the trophy at the Genesis Invitational that he hosts at Riviera, he crashed his SUV over a median on a suburban coastal road in Los Angeles and down the side of a hill.

Police estimated he was going at least 84 mph in a 45 mph zone.

Doctors said Woods shattered tibia and fibula bones in his right leg in multiple locations. Those were stabilized by a rod in the tibia, while a combination of screws and pins were used to stabilize additional injuries in the ankle and foot.

Woods said he spent three months immobilized in a makeshift hospital bed set up in his Florida home. Only then he could start moving around on crutches, and eventually he was able to walk on his own.

Woods won the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines in 2008 with a double stress fracture and torn knee ligaments in his left leg. He made it back from a scandal in his personal life to become No. 1 in the world again.

Nothing was more amazing than three years ago at Augusta National when he won a fifth green jacket after four back surgeries that made him fear he might never walk again.

That he is even contemplating playing in this Masters is remarkable in its own right. If he can, questions are sure to shift to whether he can win.

A week before Thanksgiving, he posted a three-second video hitting one shot with two words: Making progress. Two weeks later at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas, a holiday event Woods hosts, he was on the back end of the range at Albany hitting drivers.

The first big surprise came two weeks later when he played the PNC Challenge, a 36-hole scramble on a flat Florida course. Woods was allowed to ride in a cart, a point he made when there were gushing observations about the state of his game. He and his son finished second when John Daly and his son birdied the last hole.

“It’s going to take a lot of work to get to where I feel I can complete against these guys and be at a high level,” Woods said that day.

Addressing the condition of his right leg in February, Woods said it’s “altered” and that “my right leg doesn’t look like my left, put it that way.”

The importance of the practice round last week was for Woods to make sure he could walk 18 holes on the undulating terrain of Augusta National and still be able to recover in the days that followed. That he was returning Sunday was a good sign.

Can he win again? That would be considered more improbable than his last Masters victory.

In his last competitive round at Augusta National, he made the highest score of his career — a 10 on the par-3 12th hole by hitting three balls in Rae’s Creek — only to birdie five of the last six, including the last four in a row.

AP Sports Writer Will Graves in Augusta contributed.

Golf-Woods Says He Will Make a ‘Game-Time Decision’ on Playing Masters

(Reuters) -Tiger Woods will make a “game-time decision” on competing at next week’s Masters, the five-times champion said on Sunday as he continues his recovery from the serious leg injuries he suffered in a car crash in February 2021.

Woods said six weeks ago that he had a “long way to go” in his recovery but speculation mounted with each passing day that his return could come at the April 7-10 Masters as he refrained from removing his name from the field of competitors.

“I will be heading up to Augusta today to continue my preparation and practice. It will be a game-time decision on whether I compete,” Woods said on Twitter https://twitter.com/TigerWoods/status/1510613298022129668.

Unlike regular PGA Tour events, the Masters does not set a deadline for players to commit or withdraw from the tournament, which means Woods could wait until his Thursday tee time before making a final decision.

Woods was also listed on the pre-tournament news conference schedule that was released on Sunday and will meet the media at 11:00 a.m. ET (1500 GMT) on Tuesday at Augusta National.

Woods’ single-car crash resulted in a three-week hospital stay in Los Angeles where he faced the possibility of having his right leg amputated. He was then confined to a hospital-type bed for three months at his home in South Florida.

FILE PHOTO: Feb 20, 2022; Pacific Palisades, California, USA; Event host Tiger Woods reacts during the trophy presentation following the final round of the Genesis Invitational golf tournament. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY SportsREUTERS

The 46-year-old Woods has not played on the PGA Tour since the November 2020 Masters. His only event since the accident came last December when he finished runner-up alongside his son in a 36-hole exhibition played on a flat course with no rough.

Playing at Augusta National, however, represents one of the more taxing walks on the PGA Tour given its undulating terrain that all but assures golfers will hit from any number of uneven lies during the week.

But Woods is no stranger to playing through pain, something he famously proved at the 2008 U.S. Open where he prevailed in a thrilling playoff at Torrey Pines while competing on what was essentially a broken leg.

Woods capped one of the most remarkable comebacks in professional sport when, at the age of 43, he won the Masters in 2019 after enduring years of surgery and personal problems that convinced many the best golfer of his generation was done.

Former world number one Rory McIlroy had said it would be “phenomenal” for the sport to have Woods return to competition at Augusta.

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto and Rohith Nair in BengaluruEditing by David Goodman, Pritha Sarkar and Toby Davis)

Copyright 2022 Thomson Reuters.

Tiger Woods’ potential Masters appearance would be ‘amazing,’ says Jim Nantz

Tiger Woods flew to Augusta National on Tuesday, provoking discussion as to whether he’ll compete at next week’s Masters. (Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

Tiger Woods’ potential appearance in the Masters was the talk of the golf world Wednesday, one day after reports that the five-time Masters champion played a practice round at Augusta National.

Longtime CBS announcer Jim Nantz said it would be an “amazing achievement.” Rory McIlroy called Woods’ potential appearance “phenomenal.” He also confirmed reports that Woods made the trip to gauge his body’s ability to handle Augusta National’s hilly terrain. 

“He’s trying to see what he can do,” McIlroy said from the Valero Texas Open. “Obviously no one knows but him if he can make it around and if he believes he can compete.”

It wasn’t long ago that a Masters appearance from Woods felt unfathomable. While he exceeded expectations when he played the PNC Championship with son Charlie in December, Tiger rode a cart and didn’t hit every shot in the scramble format. He said it would take time to build up the strength necessary to compete in a 72-hole event. From his own Genesis Invitational in February, Woods said he was uncertain about when he would return to competition and expressed frustration at the pace of his comeback.

Seeing is believing!

Seeing is believing!

Speculation about Woods’ return began to build as his name remained in the Masters field instead of the “Past Champions Not Playing” category. Videos also appeared on social media that showed Woods walking at his home club, Medalist Golf Club in Hobe Sound, Florida, with his caddie, Joe LaCava.

“We didn’t know if he was going to make it through (the accident), and to be in this position where people are talking about, ‘This guy might actually play in the Masters,’ I think it’s amazing,” said Andy North, who will call the Masters for ESPN.

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Tiger Woods earned his fifth Masters title in April 2019. (Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

Tiger Woods earned his fifth Masters title in April 2019. (Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

North’s colleague, Scott Van Pelt, marveled at the online fervor that began building as flight-tracking websites started following the progress of Woods’ plane as it flew from South Florida toward Augusta on Tuesday. “People were tracking his plane like it’s an SEC coaching search,” Van Pelt said. 

The Masters broadcast teams from ESPN and CBS covered a variety of topics in pre-tournament conference calls Wednesday and Woods was obviously one of them. They could only speculate about a potential appearance from Woods – he has yet to announce his intentions, and the Masters does not have a commitment deadline – but they marveled at the fact that Woods could even consider playing.

“Is Tiger playing? We have no idea,” said ESPN’s Curtis Strange, whose 17 PGA TOUR wins included two U.S. Opens. “But it looks like he’s testing himself, and that is a good thing. How else would you test yourself, other than to go walk and play and get up there, play some practice rounds and see if you can walk the golf course. See how the leg holds up, see how the game is.

Tiger Woods Finally Back?!

Tiger Woods Finally Back?!

“And I commend him, because when you practice and walk and work out at home, it’s a different animal than when you get to the site and walk the golf course … which is the hardest walk in golf, Augusta National.”

Nantz visited Woods in Florida last month for a documentary on his historic 1997 Masters win, but received no hints that Woods may play this year. Nantz said Woods’ appearance would be “astonishing” and a fitting addition to the first Masters with full capacity since Woods’ 2019 win. This year also marks the 25th anniversary of Woods’ first Masters win, a 12-shot rout where he also set the tournament’s scoring record. CBS will mark that anniversary before the final-round broadcast of this year’s Masters with a documentary titled, “A Win for the Ages.” The show will feature Woods discussing his relationship with his father, as well as pioneers Lee Elder and Charlie Sifford, and his recollections of the win.

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Tiger and Charlie Woods teamed to finish runner-up at the 2021 PNC Championship. (Ben Jared/PGA TOUR)

Tiger and Charlie Woods teamed to finish runner-up at the 2021 PNC Championship. (Ben Jared/PGA TOUR)

Woods’ most recent TOUR start came at the COVID-rescheduled Masters in November 2020, prior to suffering significant injuries to both legs in a single-car accident the following February in Los Angeles. It was unknown whether he would walk again, and there was fear that his right leg would need to be amputated. Extensive rehab led to Woods teaming with son Charlie for a runner-up finish at the PNC Championship last December, his first action in front of cameras since the accident. 

“My hopes for Tiger through this whole process, were just that he could play golf again,” said North, a two-time U.S. Open winner. “That he could get out and play golf and enjoy his time with Charlie and (daughter) Sam on the golf course as a father, and not as the former No. 1 player in the world. Not as the greatest player ever, but as a dad.”

The challenge of walking four competitive rounds at Augusta National, in addition to the necessary practice and preparation, can’t be understated, however. North called Augusta National “the last place you would’ve thought he could possibly play.”

“If he plays golf, where do you think he would possibly play?” North said. “I would say, maybe at The Open Championship at St. Andrews, because it’s flat, it’s an easy walk.”

But Woods isn’t the standard competitor. The 82-time TOUR winner returned from a fused back to win the 2019 Masters. He won the 2008 U.S. Open on a torn ACL. 

A trip to Augusta suggests that he desires to compete next week. With that being the case, it’s hard to rule him out.  

“Ben Hogan was as tenacious a competitor as they’ve ever been,” said Strange of the man who won six majors after suffering severe injuries in a 1949 car accident. “And Tiger Woods is right there with him.”

* Information and images credit to www.masters.com, www.pgatour.com, www.nypost.com & Getty images

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