Golfing champion Tiger Woods has said that he will play in this week’s Masters Tournament 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.
The five-time champion at Augusta National made the announcement Tuesday morning. He will play nine more practice holes on Wednesday at the course in Georgia in the United States before making a final decision but said he would be doing so with the intention of playing Thursday.
“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 be a game-time decision for the April 7-10 Masters.
“It’s great to be back,” Woods said.
The 15-time major champion has not competed in a Professional Golfers’ Association of America (PGA) tour since the November 2020 Masters and cast doubt on his professional golfing future after suffering serious leg injuries.
On February 23, 2021, he crashed his SUV over a median on a suburban coastal road in Los Angeles and down the side of a hill.
Woods’ injuries from that crash were so severe that doctors considered right leg amputation, before reassembling the limb by placing a rod in the tibia and using screws and pins to stabilise additional injuries in the ankle and foot.
“It’s been a tough, tough year … but here we are,” Woods said.
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While fellow golfers have said Woods’s 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,” said Woods.
Woods is no stranger to playing through pain, something he famously proved at the 2008 US 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 had convinced many the best golfer of his generation was done.
“I love competing,” Woods said. “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.”
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.
Only Jack Nicklaus has won more Masters titles (six) and more majors (18) than Woods.
When asked if he could win the Masters again this week, Woods was very clear.
“I do,” said Woods. “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.”