'To have Tiger would be phenomenal': Tiger Woods in the 2022 Masters would be a gift to golf
With Phil Mickelson in the penalty box and Tiger out since his accident, men's golf is struggling to find transcendent stars who can draw in new fans.The drama runs deep as the Masters golf tournament approaches next week, and, of course, it centers exclusively on Tiger Woods, as it has for a quarter of a century now. That’s normal and expected. Of course the Masters is coming and of course we’re talking about Tiger.
AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — Tiger Woods' 91st competitive round at the Masters will start like all the rest. © Provided by The Canadian Press
At around 10:34 a.m. on Thursday, the five-time champion will stick his tee into the ground at Tea Olive, the name of the first hole at Augusta National, take a couple of practice swings and continue a familiar walk that began over a quarter-century ago.
It's what happens when Woods sticks his driver back into his bag that will determine whether his surgically rebuilt right leg — or the rest of the 46-year-old Hall of Famer for that matter — is ready for a test unlike any other he's faced in his career.
MASTERS '22: Trivia quiz covering nearly 90 years at Augusta
AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — How well do you know your Masters history? Try this quiz: 1. What player finished runner-up at the Masters to Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods? a. Tom Lehman b. Tom Kite c. Jay Haas 2. Which player has earned the most money at the Masters? a. Tiger Woods b. Phil Mickelson c. Jordan Spieth 3. Who is the only player to post all four rounds in the 60s at the Masters? a. Lee Westwood b. Cameron Smith c. Tom Watson 4. Who holds the Masters record for largest final-round comeback? a. Jack Nicklaus b. Jack Burke Jr. c. Nick Faldo 5. Who was the first player to shoot 63 at the Masters? a. Greg Norman b. Anthony Kim c. Nick Price 6.
The five-mile or so walk between the Georgia pines at Augusta National is 11,000-plus steps of up and down and up again. It requires hitting shots from uneven lies. Of digging into the pine straw when required. Of trying to peak over bunkers that can run so deep — as it does on the par-3 fourth hole — you need to jump if you're going to see the flag.
No one other than Jack Nicklaus has navigated the sprawling course as well as Woods. No active player is as well-versed in the contours of every inch of perfectly manicured Bermuda grass.
That's why Woods wasn't complaining when he said on Tuesday “walking is the hard part.” He's merely stating a fact. And he's hardly the only one who knows how physically draining competing in the Masters can be.
A timeline of Pete Davidson and Kim Kardashian's relationship
From an SNL appearance that set tongues wagging to a low key relationship that blossomed despite Kanye's Twitter tirades, here's everything you need to know about Kim and Pete's relationship.
Two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange used to leave the tournament with shin splints. And Strange didn't have to do it while working with a leg crammed with rods and plates metal detectors shudder when they see you coming around the corner.
“You know, 72 holes is a long road, and it’s going to be a tough challenge and a challenge that I’m up for,” Woods said.
At least in theory. He hasn't played 18 holes at Augusta National on consecutive days since shredding h is leg in a car accident in February 2021 that led doctors to consider amputation. Now he's asking the same leg that anchored 15 major championships and a PGA Tour record-tying 82 victories to hold up for four rounds in the span of 81 or so hours.
That doesn't even include the warm-up or recovery, routines that require far more time than they did when he fist-pumped his way to his first green jacket 25 years ago.
It's asking a lot. Yes, it's just walking. Only it's no ordinary walk. And it's no ordinary week. For Woods or anyone else.
Will Tiger Woods win his sixth green jacket? Oddsmakers list golfing great as longshot at 2022 Masters
Tiger Woods' return to competitive golf at The Masters inspires bettors, but bookmakers list the five-time champion as a longshot at Augusta.Tipico Sportsbook established Woods, 46, as a 50/1 selection to win the tournament — a position behind more than 20 others.
“I think most of the stress that we have is probably more mental than physical,” said world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler, who at 25 was born less than a year before Woods captured his first Masters title.
The stress is no longer between Woods' ears, but underneath his feet. The elevation changes are nearly constant from your opening shot. Down the hill to the first fairway, then back up toward the green. Down a hill again at No. 2. Rolling terrain on No. 3. An elevated tee at No. 4. Uphill nearly all the way at No. 7. Ditto No. 8. A climb to the turn at No. 9.
The back nine is a jumble. The 10th fairway could double as a ski slope. Another trek down the 11th into Amen Corner. The 12th and 13th offer a bit of a respite. Mounds and a slanted fairway on the 14th, where a flat lie is basically a myth. A gentle downhill to the 15th green. The 16th provides a respite, before the 17th tee begins one last climb back to the clubhouse.
Woods admits his mobility is so limited he ditched Nike cleats for FootJoys because it provided more comfort. He's hoping the jolt of adrenaline fueled by the first capacity crowd to come to Augusta since his titanic victory in 2019 will help him get by.
Masters winners by year: List of past champions, payouts, green jacket history
Masters winners by year: List of past champions, payouts, green jacket historyThe Masters, which began in 1934, has been held at Augusta National Golf Club every year since 1946. The tradition-rich event has one of the most iconic prizes in the sport — the green jacket — and also happens to be one of its most exclusive.
Still, golf is golf. Throw in the crucible that is the Masters and Woods knows adversity is unavoidable. He stressed he wouldn't come back just to be a field filler. That's simply not his way. He's not going to ask his leg to simply help him get around, but to stand on the 18th green late Sunday afternoon and have Hideki Matsuyama drape a sixth green jacket over his shoulders.
It sounds impossible. It very well may be impossible.
“When I decide to hang it up when I feel like I can’t win anymore, then that will be it,” he said. “But I feel like I can still do it, and I feel like I still have the hands to do it, the body’s moving good enough. I’ve been in worse situations and played and won tournaments.”
Yes and no. He won the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines basically on one leg. Yet he was just 32 then. He's closer to 60 now than that brilliant Father's Day weekend in the sun back home in California.
The spirit remains willing. It has since the first time he ducked inside the ropes at Augusta as an amateur in 1995.
It's the rest of him, particularly the right ankle that will have to bear the weight of so much — including internal and external expectations that come when your name happens to be Tiger Woods — that will determine whether this long walk will be spoiled.
“I don’t have to worry about the ball striking or the game of golf, it’s actually just the hills out here,” he said. “That’s going to be the challenge, and it’s going to be a challenge of a major marathon.”
More AP golf: https://apnews.com/hub/golf and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Will Graves, The Associated Press
What injuries did Tiger Woods sustain in car crash? A look back at his recovery, Masters return .
While Tiger Woods passed his first test Thursday, his movements at times Friday appeared more labored as he walked up and down the hills of Augusta.That was when Woods was involved in a single-car crash in the Los Angeles area that required emergency surgery to insert a rod into his right leg to stabilize multiple open fractures. After a lengthy rehabilitation process, Woods stunned the golf world in December 2021 — fewer than 10 months after the crash — and returned to compete with his son, Charlie, at the PNC Championship in Orlando. He did it again on Tuesday, when he said he planned to play at the 86th Masters, completing his full return to competitive golf.