Tiger Woods Says He Intends to Play the Masters


AUGUSTA, Ga. — Approaching 14 months since the car wreck that led doctors to weigh a leg amputation, Tiger Woods said Tuesday that he intended to play in the Masters Tournament.

Woods, who has won the event at Augusta National Golf Club five times, had signaled in recent days that he would perhaps join the field in the tournament, which will begin on Thursday. But his announcement, during a news conference at Augusta on Tuesday morning, represented the most definitive public step toward a return to the rigors of competition on his game’s most spectacular, tradition-bound stages.

“As of right now, I feel like I am going to play,” Woods, 46, said on Tuesday, adding that his recovery “has been good.”

“I’ve been very excited about how I’ve recovered each and every day,” said Woods, who is planning to play nine more holes before the tournament’s formal start.

Woods played practice rounds on Sunday and Monday at Augusta National, the second with Fred Couples and Justin Thomas. Woods was limping more noticeably on Monday than on Sunday. He walked up the many hills slowly with his gait slightly more inhibited.

Couples, a longtime friend and a frequent practice-round companion of Woods’s for more than a decade, said that walking 72 holes of hilly terrain during a four-round tournament would most likely present the biggest challenge to Woods.

“It is about the walking,” Couples said. “It’s brutal to walk, and to go do that after what he’s gone through — whatever it was, 14 months ago — and to be playing today?

“You can always be in pain, right. He’s kind of a tough guy. He’s never going to let you know he’s in pain.”

Overall, Couples was impressed with how Woods played.

“He looked phenomenal,” Couples said. “He drove it really, really well, like a machine. His irons were good. He’s Tiger Woods, so of course, he knows how to putt. He’s just unreal. If he cannot overdo it. If he just doesn’t get too amped up, which is easier said than done.”

“But if he can walk around here in 72 holes, he’ll contend. He’s too good.”

Woods has been undergoing arduous rehabilitation on his surgically rebuilt right leg since his sport-utility vehicle tumbled off a Los Angeles-area boulevard at a high speed on Feb. 23, 2021. He sustained open fractures, in several places, of the tibia and the fibula in his right leg. He spent a month in the hospital, and doctors had considered the possibility that his leg might have to be amputated.

But Woods, who won his first Masters title 25 years ago, in 1997, has carefully managed expectations — of the golf world and, perhaps, of his own — for a return to the PGA Tour at several points since the crash.

“I’m still working on the walking part,” Woods said in mid-February, in his first public appearance since the crash. “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.”

Woods’s last appearance in a PGA Tour sanctioned event was at the 2020 Masters, which was played in November rather than April because of the pandemic. At that event, Woods struggled and finished tied for 38th. But it was the 2019 Masters, his first major tournament victory in 11 years, that would make any challenge seem possible.

After undergoing multiple back and knee surgeries, Woods was not considered a serious contender that year, yet through the final round he played his best golf, birdieing three of the final six holes to win his fifth Masters title.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.


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