Tiger Woods will play in this week’s Masters and feels he can win the event for a sixth time in his highly anticipated return to competition following a car crash last year that nearly resulted in doctors amputating his right leg.
“As of right now, I feel like I’m going to play,” Woods said during his pre-tournament news conference.
The decision by the 46-year-old Woods, who is no stranger to staging remarkable comebacks, comes after he arrived at Augusta National on Sunday, when he said he would announce a game-time decision for the April 7-10 Masters.
The 15-times major champion has not competed on the PGA Tour since the November 2020 Masters, casting serious doubt on his professional golfing future after suffering serious leg injuries in a February 2021 car crash.
Woods said two months ago he had a “long way to go” in his recovery but kept the golf world on edge after visiting Augusta National last to practise while his name remained on the provisional list of competitors for the year’s first major.
While fellow golfers have said Woods’ swing is looking good, the big question will be how his surgically reconstructed leg will hold up on the undulating Augusta National layout, which is one of the more taxing walks on the PGA Tour.
“My personal trainers and surgeons all said I could do this again. It’s up to me to endure the pain. … I don’t know how many more years I can do this,” Woods said.
Woods is no stranger to playing through pain, something he famously proved at the 2008 U.S. Open, when 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 had convinced many that the best golfer of his generation was done.
The Masters is the only one of golf’s four majors played annually on the same course and so familiarity with the famed layout has always been considered an advantage.
Woods has made 23 career starts in the Masters, where he has 14 top-10 finishes and has missed just one cut, as an amateur in 1996.
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When asked if he could win the Masters again this week, Woods was very clear.
“I do,” Woods said. “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.”