Tiger Woods Could Thrill Beyond Belief at the Masters

On Thursday, Tiger Woods made his way to the Augusta National Golf Club’s 18th Green. The crowd responded with a loud roar. The noise wasn’t as boisterous as it would have been on a Sunday, with the soon-to-be winner approaching. The result was not as close as it could have been, and that’s a good thing.

Woods once again achieved something previously unimaginable.

In February 2021, a car accident in Southern California left Woods with “comminuted open fractures” in both the upper and lower portions of his tibia and fibula in his right leg as well as damage to his foot and ankle bones, and trauma to the muscle and soft tissue of the leg. An open fracture, on the other hand, is a fracture that results in the breaking down of a bone into multiple pieces. He was fortunate to be able to live his normal life. After the accident, Woods spent three months in his own home. The idea of Woods playing in the 2022 Masters—or any major golf tournament—seemed beside the point.

Woods was trying to keep par at the Masters, and he did it on Thursday. Woods finished the day with a score of 71. He was only four shots behind the leader. Woods still has a lot of confidence, despite being in the game for nearly 14 months since that fatal accident. It’s been 508 days since his last round at professional competitive golf. “I’m right where I need to be,” he said afterward. Woods said he will be spending the next 16 hours making friends with “lots of ice.”

“Just basically freezing myself to death,” Woods says. “That’s just part of the deal.” He tees off for his second round, on Friday, at 1:41 p.m. ET; the wind’s supposed to pick up later in the afternoon.

Woods came to Augusta, where he’s won five Green Jackets, not knowing if he’d even play in the event: the pain could remain too acute. He decided to go for it, after practicing confidently earlier in week. He’s still walking with a bit of a limp, and he flashed an occasional grimace on Thursday. “Oh Tiger,” he yelled after a shoddy tee shot on the 14th. On nine, he dropped an F-bomb.

“I can swing a golf club,” Woods says. “The walking’s not easy. It’s difficult. As I said with all the hard work, my leg, it’s going to be difficult for the rest of my life. That’s just the way it is.”

He fought through any impairments, however, to record a gusty—if not awe-inspiring—round of golf. After a “terrible warmup,” on the very first hole his approach shot rolled off the green; but he got up and down, saving par with a 10-foot putt, and setting the tone for the day. Woods kept digging deep in an attempt to prevent problems. Six of the 14 fairways he missed were off the tee. He also failed to hit nine of his 18 greens within regulation. No 46-year-old man with such statistics—coming off as many physical and mental wounds as Woods has—should finish a Masters round at one under.

But he’s Tiger Woods. Woods’ tee shot was two-feet away from the hole on the sixth hole. This hole is a par-3. Tiger came back. A regrettable bogey two holes later, on a par-5 scoring hole no less, pulled him back to even, but he wasn’t done; Woods positioned himself for a 25-foot eagle putt on the par-5 13th hole; he left it just two feet short and finished off the easy birdie. Woods made a bogey on 14, but he delivered his signature performance on the par-3 16 hole, which has been a place of great magic for Woods. A 29-foot birdie putt was made by Woods. pumped a familiar fist.

When Woods won the 2019 Masters—the last time a full crowd lined the fairways at Augusta—many fans and pundits called it the greatest comeback story ever told. Woods won his 11th major championship after overcoming a series of scandals and surgeries. However, a win this Sunday will surpass even those victories. The positive sign that Woods finished the first round was encouraging. Woods battled to the finish. A short leftward shot from the tee on the par-4 18th put him in bogey territory. Woods managed to make a short approach, but he kept his wedge just in front of the hole. He saved par by sinking a clutch pressurized putt 10 feet from the hole to end his day.

A crowd of screaming fans erupted as though a player just won a major. “Tiger! Tiger!” fans yelled as he left the green, his day done. One couldn’t help but wonder, however, how much louder Augusta would roar if Woods left a winner on Sunday. Do you mean five times? Do you want to do it ten times? Imagine what a wonderful sound this would make.

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